Ceremony to celebrate relocation of sculpture in St Albans

Chris McIntyre, Mayor Cllr Frances Leonard, Cllr Sandy Walkington and Professor Geraint John.

Chris McIntyre, Mayor Cllr Frances Leonard, Cllr Sandy Walkington and Professor Geraint John. - Credit: Archant

A ceremony was held in St Albans to mark the relocation of a limestone sculpture to the city centre.

Mayor Cllr Frances Leonard.

Mayor Cllr Frances Leonard. - Credit: Archant

The large-scale sculpture, called ‘Leaf Fields’, was initially gifted to St Albans by the artist Paul Mason, and was positioned outside the former museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road. Following the relocation, the sculpture now sits in a more prominent position in the civic centre plaza near the Alban Arena.

The former museum site is about to be redeveloped as housing to fund the new museum and art gallery being created at the old Town Hall, and the planned construction work means that the Leaf Fields sculpture needed to find a new home.

British artist Paul Mason was originally commissioned in 1985 by the Hertfordshire Association of Architects (HAA) to create the sculpture as a gift to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The relocation ceremony, on Tuesday, May 9, commemorated the 11th anniversary of Paul Mason’s death. He was a leading sculptor, draughtsman and teacher who was known for his large, stone-carved outdoor sculptures of objects found in nature.

St Albans Mayor Cllr Frances Leonard said: “I want to thank the Hertfordshire Association of Architects for this generous gift of the Leaf Fields sculpture to St Albans.

“Given the significance of this distinctive sculpture, it is fitting that the artwork now rests in a more central location right in the heart of our city.”

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Guests at the ceremony included Professor Geraint John from the HAA and St Albans Civic Society, representatives from St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust and county councillor Sandy Walkington, who helped judge the HAA competition that brought the sculpture to St Albans.

Chris McIntyre, dean of cultural affairs and director of UHArts at the University of Hertfordshire, said at the ceremony: “I am privileged to have worked with Paul Mason, whose work stood out for its continuing adherence to the traditions of stone carving, and whose sculpture graces cities as diverse as Leeds, Nottingham, Southampton, Sheffield and Edinburgh, as well as St Albans.

“Leaf Fields has had a chequered history in its locations, so it is good to be able to site it in a place that will allow it to be appreciated for its own qualities and to enhance the city centre environment.”