Friday, 8 April 2016
I pass these two massive stone statues every morning on my commute-walk through the centre of Bradford. I've been waiting for a good day to photograph them but where they are situated they rarely seem to catch the light. I've had to apply a bit of an HDR effect on this iPhone photo, to show up the detail in their faces. I rather like their solidity.
They are called 'Foundation Stones', an early work by sculptor Gordon Young (who specialises now in large-scale public art and was once the curator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park). The plaque with them says: 'The two figures, carved from Mansfield stone, represent the original personal relationship between a Provident insurance agent and customer. The sculpture took nine months to complete and was unveiled on 18 July 1986 at the former location of the Provident Financial Head Office on Sunbridge Road in Bradford.'
So there is a personal connection for me. I was born in Mansfield, where they quarried the stone.
'Insurance agent' is a bit of a euphemism, I think, because what the Provident company were set up to do in the 1880s, and have always done, is to provide affordable consumer credit. Their agents used to call regularly at people's houses to collect the instalments due on loans, in the days before you could make bank transfers online and most folks were paid in cash. I believe they still operate in the home credit arena, lending to people who may have difficulty getting loans. At one time they held an estimated 60% share of the home credit market in Britain. They still have a Bradford Head Office.
The sculptures have been moved from their original location and now stand between the Law Courts and the new Broadway shopping centre.