Monday, 22 January 2024 00:00

Thomas Browne sculptures find new home in Eaton Park

Written by  William Stevens
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Thomas Browne sculptures find new home in Eaton Park

As part of the ongoing project to redevelop Hay Hill, the Homage to Thomas Browne sculptures are set to be relocated to Eaton Park.

The homage - consisting of 20 pieces, including a brain sculpture and a large eye sculpture - will sit in a grassed area in the north of the park, surrounded by grass mounds and a background of trees.

While the large statue of Thomas Browne himself has been placed in a more prominent position on Hay Hill in the redesigned layout, public consultation showed that the homage sculptures, which were installed in 2007, would need to be relocated to meet the aims for the transformation of the city centre site.

 

Moving the Homage to Thomas Browne sculptures to Eaton Park will mean that the historic figure’s contribution to learning and his importance to the city is now recognised in two prestigious locations.

Eaton Park is already a stop on the Norwich Art Path - an art trail between the UEA Campus and the city centre, that was put together by the Sainsbury Centre, Norwich Castle and the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in association with Norwich City Council, Norfolk County Council and the UEA. The addition of the homage sculptures will be an important new element for this trail which celebrates Norwich’s active arts and culture sectors.

When looking for a new home for the sculptures, the city council prioritised finding a location where the artwork’s significance could be appreciated, and feedback from the public consultation also highlighted that people would like to know more about the artwork - so the homage will be accompanied by a new interpretation panel to explain the meaning and history behind the works. To make sure everyone can access the homage, a path will be installed around the outside of the group of sculptures.

Councillor Mike Stonard, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “A key aspect of our project to redevelop and improve Hay Hill was to find a new location for the Homage to Thomas Browne - it is fantastic that the sculptures will get a second lease of life in Eaton Park, where they can continue to be appreciated for years to come. The addition of new interpretation board in particular is something which I think will enhance these sculptures and help everyone learn a little more about one of our city’s most significant past residents.”

Helen Mitchell, chair of Friends of Eaton Park, said: “I’m delighted the Thomas Browne sculptures are coming to Eaton Park. It’s a mysterious, fascinating and utterly original work. The sculptures’ new home in Eaton Park has long been looking for a use. Two crescent-shaped grassy mounds and a small woodland frame the area where it will sit. In this beautiful new green setting the work will really be able to shine and new interpretation panels will unlock the ideas behind it". 

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“Friends of Eaton Park are looking forward to welcoming the sculptures to Eaton Park. We’re already thinking about ways to link into it and into the amazing world of Thomas Browne. We share his passion for meadows so this will be top of our agenda.”

Hay Hill is one of eight projects in the city funded from the government’s £25 million Towns Fund, which was awarded to Norwich City Council in 2020. The new look Hay Hill scheme, on track for completion in spring 2024, will include more planting, additional and improved seating, better designed steps, increased open space for cultural activities, improved walking links through to other parts of the city, and the installation of a water feature.

You can find out more about Sir Thomas Browne at www.sirthomasbrowne.org.uk

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A photo of stakeholders, councillors and officers involved in the project at the site in Eaton Park. From left to right they are: Richard Green (Norwich City Council), Cllr Adam Giles (Norwich City Council), Bev Hart (Friends of Eaton Park), Zoe Tebbutt (Norwich City Council), Helen Mitchell (Friends of Eaton Park), Cllr Emma Hampton (Norwich City Council), and Cllr Claire Kidman (Norwich City Council).

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