The project aims to place two bronze statues in the Parish Church Tower, and to celebrate the arrival of new works of art in the town by a community event. The tower statues have been awarded to Rodney Munday after a national design competition. They replace two 15th century statues which were taken down in the mid 1960s (as they were unsafe) and subsequently lost. The statues represent St John the Baptist (after whom the church is named) and the Virgin. St Johns statue is particularly iconic as its nickname "Black Jack" is alleged to have given the name to a local street.
The project has been underway for some time and has already completed and funded several steps. These include a research and feasibility stage, a national design competition prior to commissioning the sculptor. We have had maquettes made and the full size (2.2m) clay models are now ready for casting. This is what we are seeking to fund.
Once installed we will hold a community celebration event in September.
What we'll deliver:
- Casting two bronze statues in the church tower.
Why it's a great idea:
Cirencester is a wonderful town, rich in heritage and community spirit. The project capitalises on both, through bringing new art to the town, recognising the links to an iconic nearby street (Black Jack Street). The bronze statues have been designed to enhance the area around the Market Place and to "look down" into the street to engage with people rather than stand aloofly on high. They will have local, regional and national significance, enhancing the Parish Church which is the most iconic buildinng in the Market Place and in the town (Grade 1 listed). They can help to contribute to building the town as a place people want to live in and to visit.
The celebratory event is hoped to capture the imagination of the town, and at the end of a difficult period allow people to come together informally, recognising the like the "Human Poppy" event that our community is strong and vibrant.
The statues will enhance Cirencester's reputation as a tourist destination, celebrating the Cotswolds
Steps to get it done:
- May 2021- casting of the statues, prior to patination
- June 2021 - work will commence on restoring the niches
- end of July 2021 - restoration of niches completed
- August 2021 - both statures are installed
- 5th September 2021 - blessing of statues by Bishop Rachel
- 5th September - community event to celebrate the statues
Follow the project on Facebook, and through our website . https://projectblackjack.org.uk/ Here you can see the statues being moulded by the sculptor, Rodney Munday. Watch them being cast in bronze in the foundry. And learn more about the history of our town through the story of the statues and Black Jack. We give talks to local groups and are hoping to engage more widely with schools once Covid restrictions permit.
However, there is now a guided walk available explaining the history of the tower, and how it links to Cirencester's rich history (the Epiphany plot). Due to Covid, no more than five people can be part of any guided tour.
The maquettes are on display in the Parish church along with a lot of information about their design and production, plus a short video explaining the significance of the statues to the town.
The Civic Society endorses this project as a significant addition to our local heritage infrastructure.