As a treat on my birthday we travelled to the picturesque ‘and’ unspoilt seaside town of Filey on Yorkshire’s East coast. It was a trip accompanied by my lovely wife, two gorgeous daughters (The Girlies) and the dog, for a long walk along its golden beach.
I’ve been visiting Filey since I was little boy, so I know it like the ‘back of my hand’ but this day there was a welcome surprise by artist, fabricator and sculptor Ray Lonsdale in the order of a stunning 12ft high steel ‘Core10’ sculpture called A High Tide in Short Wellies, depicting a tall fisherman. The installation is sat on the edge of Filey Brigg looking out to sea, as if he’s a twisted piece of steel sticking out of the alluvial sands eroded by time.
Ray seems to have expertly used the steel to imitate the textures of the fisherman’s clothing, from his woollen hat down to his huge Wellington boots. The fisherman also proudly clasps a fishing rod which stands higher than the figure himself. His bearded face is beautifully made up from lots of vertical stacked cut steel plates. All of this detail is truly exquisite, right down to the Cod folded in newspaper at his feet with a tenacious rat trying to steal his prized catch.
I can imagine the eminence of this piece been lost in the hustle-and-bustle of places like Whitby & Scarborough, but in the solitude of Filey Brigg it seems to elevate the prominence of this twelve-foot bloke has he gazes out over the Bay.
The whole piece is supposed to be a metaphor for the deterioration of the fishing stocks, and on the base of this sculpture sits a plaque with a poignant poem about The Decline of British Sea Power.
A HIGH TIDE IN SHORT WELLIES
That’s it for me, I’ll see you later.
Gonna wrap this catch in protective paper,
Gonna face the sea with a thousand mile stare
And wish that I was floating there
In it’s summertime.
Down on the pier I saw a man with a board
It read ‘the end is near, accept your lord’
Then underneath this some fisherman wrote.
‘I can see the end from the back of my boat’
This is wintertime.
So sat with a perfect Bakers milky coffee (Best Coffee in the World in my honest opinion) I admired this gargantuan Core10 fisherman as the sun went down behind him on this warm sunny winter Birthday of mine.
The sculpture is currently on loan to Filey for the next few months, unless a willing buyer can make it a permanent installation. Judging by the crowds he was drawing in, it would make great visitor attraction for the Summer of 2012.
Great news, Filey’s Fisherman Friend is here to stay! Thanks to philanthropic pensioner Maureen Robinson for pledging to buy the man of steel sculpture for the town – her second major investment in public art in a matter of weeks.
“Having acquired Ray Lonsdale’s remarkable sculpture of ‘Freddie Gilroy’ as a tourist attraction for Scarborough, it seemed fitting to have the ‘fisherman’ for the fishing resort of Filey. I’ve had a lifelong passion for natural history, especially marine biology. Countless hours have been spent at Scarborough, Filey Brigg and other rocky shores at low tide (in short wellies!) seeking fauna and algae. What finer sculpture for Filey, than ‘A High Tide in Short Wellies’.
Michael and I love life’s simple pleasures. Having written more than 2,000 features related to wildlife for the Scarborough Evening News, I’ve also devised 970 walks within a 25 mile radius of Scarborough. Michael and our dog have accompanied me on every occasion.
Filey has featured in many of our pursuits, including circular walks in the gorgeous gardens at Filey Dams and County Park, bird watching, and visiting the town’s most interesting and comprehensive museum.
When you’ve achieved three score years and ten, I feel its time to give something back to the local community. We have no family, therefore a sculpture project for future generations and visitors from far and wide to enjoy, seemed a dream come true.
I wish to donate the sculpture to the people of Filey, and to dedicate it to my dear husband Michael, to celebrate his 76th birthday (9 February 2012).”
Official announcement by Scarborough Borough Council