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Work begins on new Queen Elizabeth II statue as firms fund artwork

Work to create a statue of Queen Elizabeth II in Newcastle-under-Lyme has begun – on the eve of what would have been her 98th birthday – thanks to two leading companies.

Staffordshire digger maker JCB and social impact developer Capital & Centric are jointly funding the statue commissioned by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council to mark the borough’s 850th anniversary.

Internationally-famous Staffordshire artist, Andy Edwards, whose previous works include the landmark Beatles statue at Liverpool’s Pier Head, is basing the sculpture on photographs of the late Queen’s visit to Newcastle-under-Lyme as part of the Borough’s 800th anniversary celebrations in 1973.

It will include minute details such as the famous Cambridge brooch which the late Queen wore when she visited the town.

JCB Chairman, Anthony Bamford, said: “Her Late Majesty paid many visits to Staffordshire over her 70-year reign, each one evoking very special memories for many thousands of people.

“I am delighted that we can play our part right here in Staffordshire in commemorating her life of service, using fabulous artistic skills for which our county is renowned.”

Capital & Centric are overhauling several key sites in Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre, including York Place, the Midway car park and Ryecroft.

Joint managing director, John Moffat, said: “We’re working up plans to revitalise the town centre with exciting designs for key sites.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to support the creation of this new landmark for the town by a talented local sculptor, which will be pride of place in Queens Gardens. It’ll be a touching tribute to the Queen – a timely nod to the past as we map out the town centre’s future.”

A spokesperson for Brampton Museum, which is overseeing the project, said: “We’re proud to oversee the construction of what could be amongst the first statues of Queen Elizabeth II commissioned since her death.

“It is being crafted by a renowned local sculptor and, rather fittingly, placed in Queens Gardens facing the statue of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

“The design deliberately draws from what Her Majesty wore during her historic visit to Newcastle-under-Lyme to mark the 800th Anniversary of the town on 25 May 1973, immortalising that memorable day.

“I want to thank JCB and Capital & Centric for their donations, which has enabled this important heritage project to progress.”

The £85,000 statue, cast in bronze and weighing one tonne, will be an exact replica of how Queen Elizabeth II looked when she walked through the town centre, cheered on by thousands of people after making an address from the balcony of the old civic offices in Merrial Street.

A launch event for the statue’s creation took place at Castle House during the week of what would have been the late Queen’s 98th birthday.

There, Andy Edwards worked on refining a terracotta wax model of Queen Elizabeth’s head and displayed some of his other intricate work on the statue so far, including the late Queen’s famous Cambridge brooch.

Also exhibited were some of the props being used as references for Andy’s work, such as the posy of flowers he had made by The Topiary Tree florist in Hanford as a reproduction of the bouquet originally presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 1973. Included in the bouquet are lillies-of-the-valley – the late Queen’s favourite flower.

Andy is known internationally for his sculptures, including The Beatles in Liverpool, Sir Stanley Matthews in Stoke-on-Trent, Sir Alex Ferguson in Aberdeen and ‘All Together Now’ – an installation of opposing soldiers shaking hands over a football to symbolise one of the most famous events of the First World War.

Andy said: “I am honoured and delighted to have been awarded this commission by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. It is a huge responsibility but one I relish and undertake dutifully.

“Though the design is informal in its presentation, the work requires exacting standards in both the expected detail and as a sensitive portrait of Her late Majesty. I use traditional time-honoured techniques in making an enlargement from a scale model and our local clay to sculpt, but also the latest digital technologies in my calculations, engineering and gleaning authenticity from archive footage and photographs.

“I know that many local people have recognized themselves in recently republished photos from the visit to Newcastle in 1973 on which this statue is to be based. I hope that this tribute brings back happy memories to them.

“Queen Elizabeth, of course, brought happiness and comfort to a lot of people across the years. I hope that this tribute will remind and continue that.”

 

 

Andy Edwards is an internationally-famous artist, whose sculpture and monumental statue commissions have been presented to and unveiled by many including, President Barack Obama, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, HRH Princess Anne, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Earl of Wessex, Muhammad Ali and Pelé.

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