It may be life in miniature but tiny, 3D bronze plaques of familiar faces will add up to one big portrait of Spalding.
Chain Bridge Forge blacksmith Will Pegram, former flood defence engineer John Honnor and texting Spalding schoolgirl Maia Dempsey are among those featured on 14 sculptures that will take pride of place on buildings all around town.
The bronzes are due to be installed between March 17 and April 17 once they have been cast and the final sites agreed.
Graphite-covered, 3D models were unveiled to the public – and their subjects – at Ayscoughfee Hall in Spalding on Thursday.
Farmer and author Rex Sly (75), from Postland, is captured reading a book while leaning against the mighty wheel of a combine.
He’s written about the Fens and can’t disguise his delight at artist Joseph Hillier’s collective picture of life in and around Spalding.
Of his own miniature he says: “It doesn’t look as though I am doing any work!”
He talked sheep farmer friends, mother and daughter Carol and Fiona Grundy, into having their image captured and knows smallholder Mick Lawson, who is seen holding a pumpkin while sitting on sacks of potatoes.
The mum and daughter live near Whaplode Drove and Mick has a smallholding at Shepeau Stow.
“You have got it all here,” Rex says, eyeing the statues. “The produce, sheep farmers, arable farmers and also drainage – we wouldn’t be farming if it wasn’t for drainage – and then there’s the blacksmith. At one time almost every village had a blacksmith.”
He’s known Carol for a good many years and says Mick, who still picks potatoes by hand, featured in one of his books.
Chain Bridge Forge blacksmith Will Pegram (24) was just a lad when he decided what he wanted to do in life – trained at the only college in England that teaches blacksmithing – and found himself recreating a pose based on an historic photograph of a blacksmith.
The photograph was unearthed in Ayscoughfee Hall’s own collection during Joseph’s extensive research on life in the Spalding area.
“It was an eerie likeness,” said Will, who happily held a sledgehammer – standing stock still for a few minutes – as Joseph took multiple scans to help create the final 3D image.
Will posed because it was a chance to be “part of something different”.
Surveying the 14 statues, Will said: “I think they are all really spectacular. I think it’s a really great project, something that’s going to be a part of Spalding for a long time.”
John Honnor was a flood defence engineer with Welland and Deepings Drainage Board for 40 years.
Face-to-face with his “mini-me”, John says: “I am very impressed, very pleased.”
Cowbit couple Peter Higham (86) and wife Vivien (84) were also happy.
Vivien said: “It’s us. It’s definitely us. They (the organisers) showed us a young couple and we know them, Christina Taylor and Sam Morgan.”
The Highams still live in the old post office, where Vivien worked from 1951-1991. Peter spent his working days in farming, focusing on livestock.
Also featured are Mary and Lizzie Adams, granddaughters of George Adams, who founded the butchers business they run today in The Crescent, Spalding.
Market trader Steve Andrew is seen shouldering a bag of carrots from Spalding auction, Ian Tyer is keeping notes at the auction, Paulina Pindara labels broccoli in Low Fulney and Gundar Skarans packs onions there.
Artists Helen Webber and John Gray, of Spalding’s Riverbank Studios, are seen beside a mountain representing the gifts they bring to the area’s flatlands.
Cornwall born Joseph was raised on a farm and has enjoyed getting to grips with South Holland’s farming and horticultural industries, visiting people at work on farms, in packing houses.
The scanning technology is 21st Century, while the art of capturing images is akin to Victorian photography as subjects must keep still for a few minutes while scans are taken from different angles.
Making the bronzes through the lost wax process is a process dating back 4,000 years.
Joseph said: “I really just tried to create a portrait of the town and everything I had learned about it during my research.”
• The 3D bronze plaque sculptures are part of a heritage trail that will feature on the updated Spalding Town Map to be published later this year.
Provisional sites include the Red Lion Hotel, in Market Place, which already has a blue plaque to mark the visit of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix.
All sites still need planning consent and, in cases like the Red Lion, listed building consent.
Places in the running include Riverbank Studios, 26 Red Lion Street, Red Lion Quarter, Revill’s Jewellers, Bookmark, Crown Affair, Prior’s Oven, George Adams, The Man‘s Shop, the Gentlemen’s Society, Savers, HSBC, W H Brown, Hole in the Wall pub, Shanghai Garden Restaurant, Thomas Cook, Flowers ‘n’ Things, Ringrose Law, Boots, Chain Bridge Forge and The Joke Shop.
The project is steered by Transported in partnership with Spalding and District Civic Society, South Holland District Council, Spalding town centre manager Dennis Hannant and schools.