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Giant broadcasting face heads for town high street

Friday, 28th October 2011.

A giant sculpture of the Face of Haverhill, broadcasting via two TV monitors in its eyes, is the public art scheme being taken forward for Haverhill High Street.

Haverhill Area Working Party yesterday saw a presentation by Samuel Ward Academy's head of art Neil Williams and three students about the project.

The working party's sub-committee Public Art in the Town Centre of Haverhill (PATCH) had given a brief to the academy's art department, which designed its last project, the Queen Street gates.

This project is part of the improvement scheme for Haverhill High Street, funded by 750,000 from St Edmundsbury's growth area fund, of which 10,000 has been earmarked for public art.

But the latest project may not cost that much, because it is to be made mostly of recycled materials.

Mr Williams explained clay and recycled stainless steel would be the main materials, and there would be an opportunity for avery Haverhill resident who wished to have some words etched into it.

The face would be based on the Face of Haverhill project from the year 2000, in which photos of the faces of 2,000 Haverhill residents were morphed into one, but the exercise may be done again to reflect the evolving multi-cultural nature of the town.

Two TV monitors encased in resin would stand in the place of the eyes, with a sound system behind the mouth, and through this all kimnds of Haverhill-based information would be broadcast.

This could include local advertising, with packages for TV made up free of charge by Samuel Ward students, local sport, including live streaming of matches, artwork from local schools, promotion of Arts Centre events, and maybe even rolling local news.

Picture might even be able to be projected from the eyes, and there could be cameras in them to deter vandalism.

Mr Williams also suggested there should be eyes as screen savers for when it was not in use, and they might move and blink.

Mr Williams said there would be very little light or noise pollution and the appearance of the sculpture would be semi-classical and unlikely to offend anyone.

"This can be made almost entirely in-house," he said. "It would be audible, visual, personalised and recycled, and because it is technological and can be updated it will never date.

"It would be up to you how you choose, as a community, to use it."

The artwork he envisaged would be 6ft tall by 4ft wide, but members thought it needed to be a lot bigger.

Geoff Rivers, chief executive of St Edmundsbury, said his experience with public art was that the bigger it was the better it worked. He thought double or treble that size would be better.

Mr Williams said he had only suggested a smaller size because he did not know how the idea would go down. "If you want to go big, we'll go big," he said.

The initial site suggested for the artwork would be outside Lloyds Bank, although this might change.

Members were unanimously impressed and excited by the idea and agreed it should be worked up.

Cllr Anne Gower said: "I'm blown away by this idea, it is so exciting. It has ticked so many boxes. It is cross-generational, unique, technological and absolutely marvellous."

But she said it must not go over budget because there were 'sensitivities about spending taxpayers money on this sort of thing'.

Haverhill Online News

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