Rediscovering Chesterfield (and map tips for our Urban on 14 July)

New Beetwell Street mural and the Chesterfield seal on the gates of Queen's Park

Controller Sal Chaffey takes an Art Tour on the new Chesterfield map

Over the last decade or so, most of our urbans in Chesterfield have used the ‘curvy and confusing’ estates of Holmebrook Valley, to the west of the town centre. For this event, local DVO member Steve Kimberley has updated Mike Godfree’s 2012 map for an event based in Queens Park. Courses have been planned by Murray White, another Spire-ite (Chesterfield local) who lives just off the map.

You can enter our July 14 event on the day or online, details here. There will be seven courses to choose from and beginners are very welcome!

Queen’s Park was opened in 1887 for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Our event centre for 14 July – Queen’s Park Sports Centre – was built just 6 years ago. The site had been occupied by a sports centre since the 1960s, but which by 2016 was ‘operating beyond its useable lifespan’. We are very happy to have a room in the Sports Centre, but ask competitors to use other public car parks in the town (see Final Details).

As Controller, first visiting in May, I was immediately struck by the amount and variety of public art in Chesterfield. A quick search told me that in 1994 the Council launched a ‘Per Cent for Art’ scheme whereby any new businesses worth over £1 million were asked to invest 1% of their value into an artwork for residents to enjoy. There is an Art Trail Map showing these pieces, and many others that predate the Trail. The numbers in this article are those from the trail, and the tour starts in Queen’s Park, sweeping clockwise around our A3 portrait orienteering map.

Well, here we go …

As you enter Queen’s Park, you’ll notice the Grade II listed gates bearing the Common Seal of the Borough of Chesterfield with its pomegranate tree emblem, granted in the early 13th century. Through the gate immediately on the right is Art Trail 39 Lalla ‘The Girl with the Stolen Rose’ (pre 1909). This statue is of 3-year-old Alice Evelyn Sybil Lee, nicknamed Lalla. It was sculptured by her father Herbert Lee, a master builder and stonemason.

A pedestrian flyover takes you over the A619 and the River Hipper to 30 Curved Reclining Form (Rosewall) (1963) by Dame Barbara Hepworth and 17 Poise (Wind Sculpture) (2002) by Angela Conner. The former is chiselled from Italian limestone, the latter is cast from onyx marble dust and resin. Later casts of Poise were made and installed in Dublin and Chatanooga, Tennessee. Conner learnt her trade in the 1960s in Dame Barbara Hepworth’s St Ives Studio.

Curved Reclining Form and Poise are in the area marked out-of-bounds to orienteers, but you can visit them after the event
Hijinks

Near the junction of Saltergate and Clarence Road stand statues of two Chesterfield MPs (often prone to acquiring traffic cones) outside the former Derbyshire Miners’ Association building: 70 Saltergate Miners (1909) Joseph James Whitehead. A kilometre east is 40 Stephen Hicklin’s 2005 bronze of George Stephenson, outside the railway station. Inscriptions: outer rim of wheel: ‘GEORGE STEPHENSON 1781-1848 – LOCOMOTION, THE CONQUEST OVER SPACE AND TIME’; inner hub of wheel: ‘DISCOVERY & VISION & INVENTION’. For the last 10 years of his life, Stephenson lived at Tapton House, overlooking the route of the Derby–Leeds railway he was then surveying. His vault is inside Holy Trinity Church, in the bottom of the V of roads forking in the north of the map. Tapton House, now offices, is just off the map to the NE and sits in Tapton Park, home to over 40 businesses and a conference centre.

Historic statues – the bronze is given a special symbol, while the marble (one of a pair) is mapped as a pillar inside the olive green area

East of the tracks we find 53 Mollusc (2003) by Nottingham artist Liz Lemon. Striking in daylight, the shell is lit blue and green at night by internal fibre optics. An iron foundry had operated near this site since the 1850s, and the inscriptions on the ground are the signatures of 100 former employees of Markham Engineering Works. The firm made tunnelling equipment for the Mersey Tunnel and London and Moscow Undergrounds (among many others), and was finally closed down in 1998.

Sal encounters Mollusc, marking the site of Markham Engineering Works which closed in 1998

Taking a quick dogleg NW we see 51 A System of Support and Balance (2004) by Frank Paul Lewthwaite outside Chesterfield Justice Centre. Walk through the St Mary’s Churchyard and admire the crooked spire at close quarters. A Tower Tour is thoroughly recommended!

‘A System of Support and Balance’

Near Vicar Lane Shopping Centre are two commentaries on consumerism by Scottish artist David Mach. You would almost certainly miss 29 Scramble (2000) incorporated into the paving stones, and described as ‘esoteric’ even by the creator of the Art Trail! He then explains ‘Given Scramble’s location in the heart of the town’s retail area and the sculptor’s long-standing concern with consumption and waste, Mach’s displacement of accumulated possessions from inside the home to under shoppers’ feet may offer a warning of the long-term illusions of consumerism.’ 29a The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (2000) is a site-specific work, possibly referencing temptation by material things.

Two artworks that are un-mappable!

Go west 150m into a complex block with intersecting alleyways and you’ll find three sculptures by Yorkshire artist Geoff Wood: 12 The Puppy, 61 The Gloved Hands, 64 The Falcon (all 2012), named for the Falcon Inn that later became the Barnsley Building Society. The Gloved Hands is a nod to the three golden hands pointing into the ‘Yards’ area where gloves were made, and there are many gloved sculptures to find.

Two sculptures by Geoff Wood in the historic lanes next to the marketplace

Before leaving the town, we have 31 Hipper (or Riverstone), Michael Grevatte (1998) in Ravenside Retail Park on the site of the Corporation Abattoir.

Hipper sculpture, referring to the canalised small river diverted south for the construction of the retail park

Have a coffee, return to your car, and on the way out of town, you’ll likely pass 79 Growth (2014) by Melanie Jackson, representing ‘the confidence and continuous growth of the town’.

Growth by Liz Lemon at the A61/A617 roundabout

Marvel at these artworks, but do look out while running and driving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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