Mark Foster sculpture turns heads in Bath
At 6ft 6ins, Mark Foster is one of Britain’s tallest sporting heroes.
So you could be forgiven for thinking that sculptor Ben Dearnley ran out of stone for his twice-life-sized model of the Olympic swimmer in Bath.
But that’s not the reason for the partially headless nature of the sculpture of the 42-year-old Commonwealth Games medal winner that was unveiled in SouthGate this week.
Bath-based Mr Dearnley says the jagged edge of the top of his work - which takes in Foster’s torso and chin - reflects the city’s Roman heritage.
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And he says he wants the labour of love sculpture to become an everyman figure, representing Olympic ideals and achievement.
Foster, who trained at the University of Bath, said the final product was “very impressive.”
He joined Mr Dearnley at the official unveiling and at a reception afterwards at the Bath Contemporary gallery in Gay Street, which is exhibiting the sculptor’s drawings and models.
Foster said: “I didn’t know how large it was going to be.
“It’s very humbling also. I feel proud that Ben chose me.”
The huge piece of carved stone is just one of the many installations which will be springing up around the city to mark this summer’s games.
Mr Dearnley, who has been working on the 2.69 tonne block of Bath stone for the past 18 months, said the process had been “really good fun.”
He said: “The city has an amazing heritage behind it and to play a part in its future heritage is a huge honour for me. It hopefully will inspire and intrigue.”
He said the partial nature of the head looked like an “ancient fragment” from the front, viewed from the city’s historic core.
“Taking the top of the head off it opens it out to become a universal piece which will still be relevant in 50 years.”
He is also working on the Avenue of Champions exhibition of Olympic and Paralympic figures at Salisbury Cathedral.
The sculpture has been created as part of the Art at the Edge project’s city-wide art trail entitled Sculpture and Sport: A celebration for 2012, which has been inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It will also feature a range of sport-themed sculptures, including one of diver Tom Daley at the Thermae Spa and sprinter Jason Gardener in Saw Close.
The charity St John’s Hospital is behind two sculptures - Sweat and Tears in Westgate Buildings by sculptor Kate Rattray, and Sophie Dickens’s Judo in Beauford Square.