Conservation-themed statue unveiled in Elms Field

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Members of the Wokingham Society were joined by Borough and Town councillors, the Town Mayor, sculptors and original artist for the unveiling of a conservation-themed statue. Picture: Jess Warren

EARLIER today, celebrations took place at Elms field for the unveiling of a new statue.

Commissioned by the Wokingham Society, the statue depicts a Song Thrush sat on an English Elm, with a White-letter Hairstreak butterfly – flora and fauna previously at home in Elms Field.

The statue was funded by society benefactor, Isobel Elliston Clifton, who previously lived and worked in Wokingham.

Ms Elliston Clifton died in 1998, and left a donation to the Wokingham Society because – according to her executor – “she hated the growth and development of Wokingham with a passion.”

She moved out of the borough in the 1970s “as the developers moved in and the population swelled”. 

One of her last acts before departure was to buy up a strip of land to stop the development of housing on Elizabeth Park in the Norreys Estate.

The plaque on the statue. Picture: Jess Warren

At the unveiling, Peter Must from Wokingham Society delivered a speech.

He said: “We wanted to embrace Ms Elliston Clifton’s idea to do good about the town, so we decided to commission a sculpture in her memory.

“This is the second sculpture in Wokingham Town Centre, after the Water Babies next to the library.

“We have placed it in Elms Field to signify what has been lost in the regeneration of Elms Field, as all three of the wildlife depicted are associated with the field.

“So it is to signify our concerns with conservation, but also to celebrate the regeneration.

“Thank you to Jane Bonney, who drew the original design, and thank you to Gary and Thomas Thrussell, who embodied Jane’s concept and our hopes for the piece.

“Thank you also to the regeneration team for incorporating this statue in the park.”

Almost all hedgerows have been removed with the redevelopment of Elms Field. These were previously home to the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly depicted on the statue.

(From left) Peter Must, Wokingham Society; Cllr Lynn Forbes, Town Mayor; Thomas Thrussell, sculptor; Jane Bonney, artist and Gary Thrussell, sculptor. Picture: Jess Warren

Town Mayor, Cllr Lynn Forbes commented on the sculpture: “It’s certainly different, it helps bring the park together.”

Jane Bonney, who drew the original design of the sculpture said: “I knew Isobel was fond of natural life, the flora and the fauna, so I got an idea of what the Wokingham Society wanted in her memory.

“Thrussell have done a few bird sculptures before so I knew they would do a beautiful job.”

Cornwall-based father and son sculptors – Gary and Thomas Thrussell – took three and a half weeks to complete the sculpture.

“We started with the framework, and then made the bird and leaves separately,” explained Thomas Thrussell. “We made the bird first out of a wire frame, and then lad it in sheet steel. It was all hand beaten and hand pressed.”

The Thrussell have another sculpture in Wokingham. 

“A couple of years ago we were commissioned to do the entrance sculpture for Montague Park. And then we did the artwork on the outside of Jane’s Methodist church. That’s how we got involved with this sculpture,” said Thomas Thrussell.

“We’re building a relationship with the town, it’s nice to spend time learning about the area.”

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