Three new art installations will finally take the place of Dulwich Park’s Barbara Hepworth statue, which was hauled out of the ground by thieves four years ago.
Crooks made off with the original £500,000 artwork in 2011 and are believed to have melted it down to sell as scrap metal, shocking the community and leaving art-lovers grieving its loss.
Council Leader Peter John at the time described the incident as ‘devastating’ and said that the theft of public art was becoming a “sickening epidemic” in Southwark, following the theft of a statue of Bermondsey doctor and MP Alfred Salter from the Thames riverside the previous month.
This Saturday its replacement will be unveiled in the form of three bold structures designed by celebrated artist Conrad Shawcross.
He said: “It has been a great pleasure to make a new, permanent commission for Dulwich Park. These knot-like forms host a void within them and this is a subtle reference to Hepworth’s work, in which the hole is ubiquitous.
“I hope they become meeting points, romantic destinations, and encourage playfulness while remaining beguiling and provoking.”
The artworks will form a trail in the northern end of the park. The cast-iron structures will rest on the grass – an attempt to show the juxtaposition between industry and the environment in Southwark.
Cllr Barrie Hargrove, chair of the Dulwich Park Commission Steering Group and Southwark cabinet member for parks, added: “Public art of all kinds but especially those in our parks and green open spaces, have and will always be such a valuable part of the local community.
“After the shocking and awful theft of the original Hepworth sculpture it was important for us to get the ball rolling, involving the local community, in the commissioning of new sculptures for the park.”
Anyone wishing to attend the official unveiling should meet at Dulwich Park at 2pm this Saturday.