Calls to save Hertfordshire’s public art collection as consultation deadline nears

PUBLISHED: 08:31 28 March 2018

Chimneys by Fred Uhlman is one of 428 works which are being consulted on for disposal. Picture: Herts County Council

Chimneys by Fred Uhlman is one of 428 works which are being consulted on for disposal. Picture: Herts County Council

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A petition to ‘save Hertfordshire’s public art collection’ has received more than 1,200 signatures – as Herts County Council consults on plans to dispose of 91 per cent of the collection.

Lake by Gabriel Couderc is also under threat as part of the consultation. Picture: Herts County Council Lake by Gabriel Couderc is also under threat as part of the consultation. Picture: Herts County Council

Out of a total of 1,826 artworks, long term HCC has proposed to retain 167 – but is initially seeking views of 428 works in a five-part consultation which closes on Sunday.

The petition founder, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “The collection is of cultural, artistic, educational, social and historic value. It places Hertfordshire into the story of British art and education, and is an important part of the county’s heritage. The collection belongs to us all – it should be seen, used and celebrated. We need as many signatures as possible because if these plans go ahead, a significant body of art will disappear into private hands and be lost to the public forever.”

Conservative county councillor Andrew Stevenson is among those who have signed the petition. He said: “I think that the schools art collection in particular was very influential in its day and is significant more than just locally in that sense. I think that there needs to be more university research done to better understand its significance. Ideally, the core of it should be kept together and put on public display for future generations.”

Since 2016 central government has allowed local councils to invest the proceeds of assets sold by April 2019 in its services.

HCC stated that the last valuation of the collection was £26.2 million, with individual valuations ranging from £100 to £20 million. However, this is not the potential sale value, but the insurance value. The council does not know at this stage how much sales would raise.

A spokeswoman for Herts County Council said: “The county council has explored other funding opportunities. We are working with the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association and Hepworth Foundation to look at how we fund the conservation of some of the most prominent sculptures in the county.

“The results of the consultation will support discussions with partners and funding bodies around future support and funding for the retained collection to ensure our objective of significantly improving the display and interpretation of the retained collection.”

To take part in the consultation go to surveys.hertfordshire.gov.uk/s/artconsultation and to view the petition to go change.org/p/save-hertfordshire-s-public-art-collection

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