The mystery of the headless statue

Pan statue, Aston HallBirmingham City Council is hoping snap happy residents can help it get a head start in the final stage of a £13 million restoration project.

Curators from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have secured funding to restore sculptor William Bloye’s 1934 statue of the Greek God Pan, which formerly had pride of place the West garden at Aston Hall.

Just one problem – the statue’s head was stolen by vandals six years ago.

Aston Hall & Park reopened to the public in July 2009 following a £12.75m refurbishment and restoration project. The refurbishment of the West Garden was not included in the original scheme but thanks to ongoing fundraising efforts a package of restoration and landscaping work to the garden costing some £70,000 will be carried out this year.

Artists from specialist sculpture company Eura Conservation have completed an initial clay maquette (small scale model) of the missing head which will ultimately be carved in Portland stone and reunited with the rest of the figure.

Unfortunately, there are no detailed images of the statue prior to the vandalism and sculptors need help to recreate an accurate copy of the missing head.

That’s where Birmingham residents can help. Curators are urging members of the public to send in photographs of Bloye’s statue to assist the restoration project.

Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture Cllr Martin Mullaney said: “Restoring William Bloye’s figure of Pan will be the icing on the cake of the Aston Hall and Park restoration project.

“But we need the public’s help to complete the work, so if anyone has any close-up snaps of the statue of Pan from any time between the 1930s and the present time we would love to see them.”

Can you help? If so upload photographs to http://www.flickr.com/groups/1614884@N23/ or contact Head of Heritage Services Chris Rice on 0121 303 4039 or email chris.rice@birmingham.gov.uk.

ENDS

Notes to editors

William James Bloye

  • Born in 1890, William James Bloye studied and later taught at the Birmingham School of Art. He was Birmingham’s unofficial civic sculptor, working on virtually all public commissions including libraries, hospitals and the university.
  • In addition to the Pan statue, his notable works include the gilded memorial to Boulton, Murdock and Watt on Broad Street.
  • A commemorative Blue Plaque for civic achievement was recently unveiled in Birmingham in honour of his life and work.
  • Bloye died in Italy in 1975.

Aston Hall restoration project

  • Aston Hall officially reopened in July 2009 after a £12.75million renovation, thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
  • The Jacobean mansion was closed for two years while restoration and redevelopment work was carried out to improve visitor facilities.
  • Original features were uncovered and restored, with many rooms reinstated to 17th and 18th century colour schemes and condition. The Orange Room, where Charles I slept, was opened to the public for the first time.
  • And nearby stables were redeveloped as a tea room, toilets and gallery for visitors.

For further information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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