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On the Sculpture Trail in Peterborough at Thorpe Meadows, which includes works by Sokari Douglas Camp, Elizabeth Cooke and Simon Perry

By Spalding Today Columnist

Ever since we moved to South Holland in the late 1980s, we have paid regular visits to Ferry Meadows in Peterborough. During that time, we never thought to check out Thorpe Meadows, just a short distance away. It's home to Peterborough City Rowing Club and its impressive 1km rowing lake. But it's also the location for 17 public sculptures.

We have the Peterborough Development Corporation to thank for the original collection. The corporation was created in 1968 to expand the city and during 1978 to 1988, it purchased sculptures by major British artists for permanent display throughout the city.

Peterborough Sculpture Trust was created in 1988 to continue this work by maintaining the collection and adding to it to enhance the appreciation of the arts in the city.

Dougie and I decided it was high time we took a drive to Thorpe Meadows to see some of the work on display. There's a car park which gives free parking for an hour: this is just about enough time to walk the length of the lake and back. Otherwise, you'll need to pay £2.50.

There is a hotel and a pub on site, so if you're planning to visit either establishment, they have their own provision for car parking.

The rowing course at Thorpe Meadows (5482085)
The rowing course at Thorpe Meadows (5482085)

Most of the sculptures are situated between the rowing course and the River Nene and there's a map online you can print off to guide you. It's worth remembering that some of the pieces are more than 30 years old now, so they have weathered over time.

Festival Boat by Sokari Douglas Camp - and Dougie! (5482077)
Festival Boat by Sokari Douglas Camp - and Dougie! (5482077)

One of the most striking pieces is Festival Boat by Sokari Douglas Camp. Inspired by ceremonial boats in Nigeria, where the artist was born, it was purchased in 1988. Sokari has since been awarded a CBE for her services to art and her work is in collections at The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. and the British Museum in London.

A more recent acquisition is Cormorant by Elizabeth Cooke. Bought in 2007, this sculpture is perfectly placed by the water, where real cormorants can be spotted.

Quarry by Simon Perry (5482093)
Quarry by Simon Perry (5482093)

One of our favourites was Quarry by Simon Perry, depicting a wolf emerging from a stone block. Simon is now based in Australia and it's been fascinating to learn about his career and find his art in cities Down Under.

Nearby is Little Prince, a steel sculpture the corporation bought in 1985 from Jane Ackroyd. It represents the book written by Antoine de Saint Exupery. The tree, asteroid and pyramid are elements of the story incorporated into the work. Jane has won numerous awards and continues to produce outstanding pieces of public art.

We were pleasantly surprised by Thorpe Meadows. Even without the artwork, it's a super place for a walk, to admire the lake and watch the swans and geese. The sculptures are an added bonus: a testament to the vision of the Peterborough Development Corporation and the continued dedication of the Peterborough Sculpture Trust.

You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk


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