The Concrete Hippo
is a piece of public art
in a middle sized industrial town
in the English Midlands
. I have spoken with many people about when it was constructed, and nobody seems to know exactly, but the opinion is it was sometime in the 1980
s. It was one of the first pieces of Public Art to grace the town, second only to the statue
of Sister Dora
Nowadays there are many pieces of public art, including the podium
with a fountain
adorned with large bronze
faces. This cost a large amount of money to build, and became instantly loathed, as nobody had thought that building something with the specific purpose of creating somewhere for people to congregate may attract teenagers
, who were described by one local politician as "worse than the pigeons
After vast sums of money started to be spent on public art in Walsall town centre, representatives of other towns in the local area under the control of Walsall council
complained that Walsall was getting all the attention
. This resulted in a very amusing debate
in which the three main political parties
discussed their take on public art, from a Walsall standpoint.
: We need to spend more money on public art.
: Nobody likes this expensive public art; the cheapest one is the Concrete Hippo, and everybody loves that. We should make more.
: It's all well and good talking about more concrete hippos for Walsall, but what about Darlaston
? We should have public art too.
The discussion was ended after the three parties checked if the mould for the Hippo was still in existence, and it was found not to be.
More recently, the operator of the local health trust
started a website showcasing
everything good about Walsall, but didn't include the Hippo. A friend of mine organised a petition
to include photographs
of the hippo on the website, and got it signed by over a hundred people, including a German game developer
(for reasons that to this day escape me!).
The Hippo still stands by Sister Dora, near the podium, opposite the HSBC
bank. It has 3 benches arranged around it, where children
gather to take turns riding the (less than a metre tall) symbol
of our small town.
I've put an ASCII
drawing of him below, for more on our little town, visit http://www.walsallwonderland.co.uk
there is a picture of him there, with comments from other Walsall residents (needless to say, they love the Hippo), and lots of other information on the strange things
that happen in my part of the world.
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