Beloved nymph sculpture to be on display next week as councillor hints at permanent home - The Coventry Observer

9th Aug, 2022

Beloved nymph sculpture to be on display next week as councillor hints at permanent home

Felix Nobes 31st Aug, 2018 Updated: 31st Aug, 2018

A ‘BELOVED’ nymph sculpture will make its return to public display after being hidden away for decades – while a councillor has hinted at potential locations for a permanent home.

Naiad will go on display temporarily at Friargate next month after a year-long campaign for her to be taken out of storage and restored.

Councillor Jayne Innes says it will be available for viewing in time for the Coventry Heritage Open Days starting next weekend (September 8).

She also confirmed the council has not ruled out returning it to Earl Street Courtyard – a Grade II listed location, now owned by Coventry University.

She mentioned other possible outdoor locations including outside the new waterpark on Greyfriars Lane.

Naiad is a bronze water nymph – a figure from Greek mythology – and was the first piece of public art commissioned in the city after World War Two.

She had been stored away for around a decade, drawing criticism from heritage organisation the Coventry Society.

Lead campaigner and Coventry Society member, Vincent Hammersley, has now called for the statue to be returned to her original position.

He says eminent city sculptor George Wagstaff designed her to sit by the pond in Earl Street courtyard.

Mr Hammersley thanked the council’s ex-conservation officer Chris Patrick and Coun Innes for their efforts to support the campaign.

He said: “Its on temporary display at Friargate, which is a lot better than being abandoned in a medieval gatehouse for ten years.

“The way it had been treated – attempts at theft and then inadequate storage – had damaged Naiad.

“And it had to go away to be repaired and refurbished – George Wagstaff supervised that himself.

“I am greatly relieved and pleased this beloved piece of art – and a symbol of the regeneration of our city after the devastation of World War Two – is at least back on public display.

“I’m pleased its back for George and I’m pleased its back for the people of Coventry, for whom it was commissioned.

“But she does need to be displayed in the context of water – that’s the way she was designed.

“And I want to see her back eventually in the place she was designed for, which is the pond in the Earl Street Courtyard.”

Naiad was stored in Lady Herbert’s Garden’s Old Gate House before being moved to the council house.

Cabinet member for city services Jayne Innes said: “One of the beauties of Naiad is that she was designed to be outside. “Therefore outside the water park might be a nice setting for her.

“We are also still talking to the university to see if they want her back in the original square.

“What we want – and what George wants – is for her to be appreciated wherever she goes.

“We want people to be able to engage with her as they always have.”

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