Harlow Art Trust, custodians of Harlow Sculpture Town, announced in early September that a new sculpture by the artist David Murphy, is to be unveiled in the grounds of St Mary’s Church, Little Parndon, Harlow. Day starts with morning will be 104th in the town’s remarkable collection of public artworks which includes pieces by Elisabeth Frink, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, as well as a more recent loaned work by leading contemporary artist Eva Rothschild.
The sculpture takes the form of an archway bridging an opening in the church wall that connects the churchyard to Ram Gorse Park, a new development of 125 homes built by Tilia Homes on the former grounds of the Harlow Rugby Club. The artist’s brief was to reinterpret the archetype of the traditional wrought iron overthrow: a structure with a central light bridging a gateway. The additional challenge was to mediate the old and the new, the sacred and the secular, and have multiple readings open to interpretation.
Murphy’s design was selected from 36 applications to the open call for submissions issued by Harlow Art Trust in 2019. The diverse range of industry based in Harlow made it possible to build this ambitious and innovative sculpture locally, thanks to companies including Astro Lighting and Fish Fabrications Ltd. The final work stands at 11-feet-tall and is made of Corten steel. The form describes a lively, lyrical line over two new gate posts.
Artistic Director of Harlow Art Trust Kate Harding said, “Day starts with morning has been made in the spirit of John Ruskin, who wrote that ‘when we build, let us think that we build forever’. It forges links between the parish of St Mary’s Church, residents of Ram Gorse Estate and Harlow’s exceptional public art that will endure for many years. We are incredibly grateful to David for his skill and the hard work that has made this all possible.”
Murphy has made several other large-scale public artworks including at Piece Hall in Halifax in partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and a landmark commission for the face of Oxford House, Oxford Street in Central London. Ahead of the unveiling the artist said, “I am delighted to bring a new artwork to this fascinating and challenging site, I feel the work strikes a successful balance: respectful without being sombre, impactful without being overbearing, contemporary yet aware of the layered history of the site. I hope it will be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Reverend Jokey Poyntz, Vicar of St Mary’s Little Parndon said: “we felt God’s prompting to knock an opening through our churchyard wall to the new estate Ram Gorse Park, literally and metaphorically making connections between the old and the new. David’s beautiful sculpture enhances the opening and adds to this sense of ancient and modern, and movement back and forth, hinting at celestial forms. The name Day starts with morning has for us so many echoes of faith: Christ the light of the World, the creation story, even that Victorian hymn “new every morning is the love our wakening and uprising prove; through sleep and darkness safely brought, restored to life and power and thought.”
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