Lichfield, City of Sculpture

Our Christmas meeting welcomed Peter Walker to talk about his work in and around Lichfield. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Peter, he was born in Lichfield and spent his early life in Burntwood. Always drawn to the arts, after dallying with poetry and music, Peter discovered that his chosen vocation was sculpture. Now an established sculptor, he has chosen to give something back to Lichfield and Burntwood. Working with the support of our Councils, community groups and schools, he has adopted the theme of "Lichfield, City of Sculpture". In addition, at the Cathedral, he is part way through a commission as Sculptor in Residence. Peter's work output is prolific. About 10% of his time is spent on work associated with the visual arts in Lichfield and Burntwood; the remainder on commissions nationwide. For example, his work can be found in Burton on Trent (a statue of the greek goddess of beer near the shopping centre), Llanelli (a sculpture recognising the historic importance of the town's tin manufacturing industry) and Berkhamstead (a bust of William the Conquerer, marking his acceptance of the throne there in 1066). Peter is also working in the new format of digital artforms, principally through the creation of son et lumiere presentations by projecting moving images onto buildings, accompanied by new musical compositions. Lichfield has served as a test-bed for his early presentations, as many readers will know.

Peter is a strong believer in the promotion of art for everyone. Art should not be for a minority, but available as an experience for all. His idea for a sculpture trail in Lichfield was launched in 2005. Since then Peter has run numerous arts projects with community groups and schools, promoting this initiative and associated artworks. Higher profile projects include his bronze sculpture based on pages from Dr Johnson's dictionary - which we all pass by in Greenhill Mews, en route to Tesco's store. That work, which had significant public involvement, was funded by Tesco. He also created the distinctive sculpture of Erasmus Darwin beside the Registry Office in Beacon Park. In Burntwood, a sculpture of a miner and pit pony now looks out over Sankey's Corner. This was a seven year project, as local former miners worked to raise the funds for its realisation.

Peter stressed that the emergence of Lichfield as a City of Sculpture was of necessity a long term project needing many years for full realisation. It was not about the sudden creation of numerous works of art but a slower process to develop public understanding of the concept, through the artworks' ready accessibility to residents. At the time of writing, Peter is occupied with the son et lumiere programme for the Christmas period at the Cathedral, supported by other artworks. As Sculptor in Residence, he has been commissioned to create a new three metre bronze statue of St Chad. He will also be using the Close and Cathedral to display some of his own work over the next few years. Further afield, Peter visited our twin town of Limburg in 2016 to launch an art exhibition.

Peter, ably assisted by his wife who joined him for the presentation, is clearly committed to the quest to make both Lichfield and Burntwood better places to live, through the creation of meaningful artworks in the public realm. Committed to "the long haul", we are fortunate to have such and skilled and articulate artist resident here in the City. Peter will succeed because he won't take "no" for an answer! More information about Peter and his work can be found at:

Roger Hockney
December, 2016