The Telegraph: Roundabouts, concrete cows and the Moore that lost its head

The Telegraph, November 12, 2019

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As Harlow unveils its 100th work, Christopher Howse surveys our new towns’ public art.


As I stood by Lynn Chadwick’s 10ft three-legged bronze sculpture Trigon, in the Broad Walk of Harlow’s shopping precinct, a cheery woman said: “What do you think of that, then?” I threw the question back at her, and she replied: “I’m no expert. It’s unusual. That’s the closest I’m going to come to saying I like it.”

Since its transformation under the New Towns Act of 1946, Harlow, in Essex, has bought sculpture through its idealistic and widely admired Art Trust. I had come to see its 100th commission,


Twofold, which is curious. From one angle it shows part of the outline of Michelangelo’s David (1504), and from another it exemplifies a curve drawn by Wassily Kandinsky in his Diagram 17 (1923). I wouldn’t have got the - Kandinsky reference without -prompting, but then it is obvious.


Twofold is made of steel, with the even rust-coloured surface of corten (corrosive-resistant steel with tensile strength) and 17ft tall, the same as David. The sculptor Nick Hornby (an admirer of the better-known novelist of the same name) was momentarily annoyed that the work’s surroundings were still a bit of a building site, but he soon enthused about his materials, saying that the work is sheared from a 36ft sheet of corten by a laser cut less than a millimetre wide, “like a stiletto”.


]Another of Hornby’s works, Muse Offcut #1 (2017), stands on the grass at Glyndebourne. In Harlow the -juxtapositions are rather different: “Rodin’s Eve is near TK Maxx,” Hornby laughed. His own piece stands at Maypole Boulevard, in an open-sided courtyard of the new science park, which the council hopes will improve Harlow’s employment profile.