Now that spring is just around the corner, we’re approaching the glorious time when we can actually go back outside! Of course, having been in hibernation for so very long, the big yellow thing in the sky can come as quite a shock – and leave us wondering how on earth to deal with it. Apart from the mandatory first-warm-day barbeque (we haven’t looked in to this extensively but we’re fairly sure it is British law to have a barbeque as soon as the sun comes out), what else can you do with a warm spring day? The simplest – and cheapest – answer is to take a leisurely stroll. Luckily, in Harlow, there is no shortage of beautiful things to see as you and the family get on your feet for spring.
In the 1953 The Harlow Art Trust was founded to build up collections of remarkable artworks, and has since become one of Britain’s leading regional arts organisations. The trust’s sole purpose is to commit to the town’s beautification and cultural heritage, and they do a wonderful job at making Harlow the appealingly aesthetic town that it is.
Over the past 53 years, the Trust has built up a collection of sculptures by some of the foremost names in modern and contemporary art, attracting tourists and art lovers to Harlow from all over the world. The sculptures are on display around the town, and walking the trail is akin to taking a walk through a sculpture gallery, like an open air museum. Located in the main town squares as well as in numerous public buildings and schools, sculptures can be admired across Harlow.
The sculpture count currently stands at 84, comprising smaller sculptures, plaques, statues and more, and spanning many themes and cultures – and you can see the works of art for yourself by downloading the free Harlow Sculpture Trail map and taking a walk through the town for a fun and fascinating day out, with the kids, a partner, or alone!
However, not everyone can manage the entire sculpture walk in one go – so you may wish to focus on one of the three main areas of the trail, which can be seen on the trail map. There is a very extensive collection in the town centre, including Henry Moore’s ‘Family Group’ statue, which looks out from the foyer of the Civic Centre onto the Water Gardens, where Elisabeth Frink’s ‘Boar’ stands.
Additionally there is the River Stort Sculpture Trail, a riverside walk that runs from Parndon Mill to the astonishingly beautiful Gibberd Garden on the edge of Harlow.
If you’re intrigued by the majesty of the artworks, you can dive right in to the information by ordering a copy of Gillian Whitely’s ‘Sculpture in Harlow’, an excellent catalogue and guide to the collection.
The Harlow Art Trust also runs the Gibberd Gallery, making Harlow an epicentre of inspirational focus, raising cultural acclaim or the town and its artistic heritage through its boasted collections of works.
If you’re getting itchy feet thinking about the sculptures you’re yet to see – and perhaps even those you’ve walked past a thousand times without considering its history – why not grab a copy of the map, a few friends, and get walking!