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Sculpture to stand watch over Roehampton once again

A major public art project which will see one of the most important works by the eminent 20th Century sculptor Lynn Chadwick returned to its original site in Roehampton is to be launched by the University.

Posted: 20 February 2015

image for news story Sculpture to stand watch over Roehampton once again
The Watchers, pictured in the 1960s in the grounds of Downshire House

The Watchers - three two metre high abstract bronze figures - stood for many years in the grounds of Downshire House, and overlooked of the iconic 1960s Alton Estate, until one of them was cut down and stolen seven years ago. Subsequently the University took the other figures into secure storage.

Now with the imminent completion of the new hall of residence at Downshire House, the University has asked for and received permission from Mr Chadwick’s estate to have the missing figure re-cast. Once it is re-created, the three will return to a similar position on the landscape where they will be enjoyed students, staff and public.

Few or Mr Chadwick’s works are in the public realm, most being in private collections, so the chance to restore this sculpture to its original appearance represents a significant achievement for the cultural life of Wandsworth as a whole.

The project to recreate The Watchers has been led by the Vice Chancellor, and Gilly King, the University’s Heritage Adviser.

Gilly said: “This sculpture is a wonderful and rare piece of public art, and was one of the defining features of Roehampton’s horizon. We are delighted to have received permission to re-cast the missing figure and to reunite the three together as Lynn Chadwick intended. Returning The Watchers to Downshire House will bring a real sense of modern cultural history to the students who will live in our brand new hall of residence and to everyone who wants to see great public art. It’s another example of how important we consider the University’s heritage to be.”

The new figure will be made from the original casts used to create the missing figure. Work will begin in March and the three are expected to be installed in the grounds of Downshire House in July.

Once the three figures are installed, the University has confirmed security will be significantly improved to prevent any issues arising.

The University will name its new accommodation at Downshire House as Chadwick Hall, in honour of the sculptor’s work and contribution to Roehampton. Examples of Chadwick’s conceptual artwork will be displayed in the entrance to the new hall of residence.

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