Bid to save Winter Gardens artwork

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:19 29 March 2016

Rosie Smith artist

Rosie Smith artist

Archant

Five tile paintings, which have adorned the walls of Weston-super-Mare's Winter Gardens for 25 years, are being removed as part of Weston College's revamp of the building and stored away so a new home can be found.

Clarence Park tile paintingClarence Park tile painting

The paintings, which depict Weston’s parks: Ashcombe, Grove, Clarence and Prince Consort Gardens, are the handiwork of renowned Weston artist Rosie Smith.

Though a new permanent home has not yet been found, North Somerset Council confirmed that along with five room signs, they have been safely removed and will now be stored at the South West Heritage Trust centre in Taunton.

Artist Mrs Smith, from Weston, said she was ‘heartbroken’ at their removal, though there is hope the Clarence Park painting could go on display at Weston Cricket Club or Somerset County Cricket Club, with both showing interest.

Mrs Smith said: “I am heartbroken that they are not going to be on display at the Winter Gardens, but I am glad that they have been removed safely. They are being cleaned so I am very relieved about that.

“Hopefully we can find a new site for them and they can be appreciated around the town. But at least they are safe and they will be stored away. That is a great relief to me.”

Four of the tile paintings are 6ft 6ins wide and 4ft high, with the other a 13ft-wide panorama.

A council spokesman said: “They will be removed and stored at the South West Heritage Trust centre in Taunton until a decision is made as to where they will be displayed. That location needs to be inside, and, of course, accessible to the public.”

Weston College, which is refurbishing the Winter Gardens in an £11million plan to build a law and professional services centre, said the paintings had been ‘carefully’ removed by Heritage Tile Conservation, a leading company in the field.

Penny Beckett, chairman of TACS (Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society), said: “We hope, if and when these panels are removed, a suitable home might be found for them rather than allow the tile panels, as sometimes happens, to remain forever in storage.

“TACS fully realises that there is considerable cost attached to any of these possible actions and Weston College will need to take this into account. It is our view that the best possible outcome would be for the tile panels to remain where they are, in situ, and currently located within the centre.

“While these tile panels are unlisted they are, nonetheless, of high quality and have now found their place in the social history and the landscape of the local community. We very much hope that Weston College will endeavour to find the best possible outcome for this locally important body of work.”

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