Picture Post: Roundabout sculpture which was a leap of faith

PIC: James Hardisty
PIC: James Hardisty
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Some councils plant flowers on major roundabouts, others uses them to promote advertising hoardings for local businesses. Wetherby has gone one better.

Now on the town’s main roundabout, which is circled each year by 15 million cars, a giant stone horse looks as though it’s about to leap into the rush hour traffic.

The sculpture was born out of the 2010 Chelsea Flower Show, which saw Leeds City Council win a gold medal for its garden sponsored by Hesco Bastion. Celebrating afterwards, the team which had taken on Chelsea began to wonder whether they could bring a little of that creativity back to Yorkshire.

The roundabout project was born and Leeds-based designer Christopher Heaton was chosen to deliver the brief.

“The winding drystone wall reflects the limestone ridge on which Wetherby is built and the grey stone contrasts with the colourful planting,” he says. “I wanted something which was striking, but which also celebrated the town’s links to horse racing.

“My original concept was to create five life-size horses, but in the end we had to limit it to just the one. It’s something which really puts Wetherby on the map and I hope it will be the start of a series of roundabout gardens.”

Natural Stone, which was involved in the original Chelsea garden, supplied the granite and together with Christopher it is also sponsoring the upkeep of the sculpture.

Sadly, before the work was completed, Jimi Heselden, the director of Hesco Bastion who had been one of the project’s main supporters, died after falling from cliffs while riding one of his firm’s Segways, near his home in Boston Spa.

However, Christopher hopes the sculpture will now stand as a fitting tribute to the well-known Leeds businessman and philanthropist.

“We hope that the late Jimi Heselden is looking down at us with a big smile on his face,” he says. “He has been our driving force, so hopefully it will now be known forever as the Jimi Heselden roundabout.”

Technical details: Nikon D3s, Lens 12-24mm, Aperture F7.1, Shutter Speed 1/640s, ISO 1EV under 200.

Picture: James Hardisty

Words: Sarah Freeman