We always say Jesmonite is a durable product, but this just proves it.
Sculptures of circus performers made of Jesmonite more than 20 years ago are to get a new lease of life at a school for autistic children.
The sculptures, made by artists Chris Rutter and Evelyn Bennett in 1999, were exhibited at the De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill and toured to various galleries in the south of England before being put into storage.
They have now been donated to Dame Stephanie Shirley who started Priors Court School in Thatcham, near Newbury. Dame Shirley bought some of Chris and Evelyn’s work in 2000 to add to the extensive art collection at the school.
And Chris said it’s been a pleasure to get the artwork back to their best for their new home.
He said: “When we made these 22 years ago it was the first time we’d used Jesmonite.
“We’d recently been to a talk about a new water based resin and we had no idea if it would work.
“We gave it a go and it went well for the sculptures we were making. We had no idea at the time that they’ll still be standing and in good condition all these years on.
“We’re repainting them and making some of them weatherproof as they may live in the gardens at the school, but otherwise they’re in perfectly good condition and we are so pleased with how the Jesmonite has held out for all this time.
“It is great to know they will be making a difference and be enjoyed at the school now, were pleased to be able to donate these pieces to them.”
The six sculptures, some of which are able to move and sway in the breeze, are around three metres tall and are of circus acts like a hula hopper, tight-rope Walker, juggler, unicyclist and ringmaster as well as the big top itself.
They are bright and colourful – in the initial exhibition in Bexhill they were presented against a bright pink wall and were described by John Davies as ‘a colourful exotic garden of delights which contains the shapes and feel of the circus…. vibrant colours used lavishly and joyfully’.
Tim Sharman, of Jesmonite, was delighted to hear about the sculptures and their new home.
He said: “Artists and builders love Jesmonite for all sorts of reasons, it’s flexibility, it’s eco-friendly nature, it’s ease of use and mix of colours.
“While all those aspects of Jesmonite are at work in these wonderful circus sculptures, the fact they’re being used with little restoration 22 years after they were originally created, really shows off how durable it is.
“But even more exciting is that with that durability, it’s not a strain on the environment as it’s water based too.
“They look great and we’re so pleased the children at Priors Court School will now get to enjoy them and be cheered by them, as we are when we look at the pictures!”
Chris and Evelyn have since made two more sculptures of Jesmonite which are stood in the courtyard of Hastings Conquest Hospital.
To see more of their work, visit www.rutterandbennett.com.