Friday, 21 March 2014

Hobbs Gate, Kennington Oval SE11

Inside Surrey Cricket Ground's Hobbs Gate, memorial to Sir Jack Hobbs, is a panel celebrating another batting legend, Len Hutton. The carved brick portrait was created by Walter Ritchie, a Midlands-based sculptor who specialised in the medium.
Oddly, the piece was the outcome of a fund-raising effort in the 1980s to rebuild the Oval, which had fallen into sad disrepair. Donors 'bought' bricks at £1,000 each (and the actual bricks were donated). Len, by then Sir Leonard, was personally involved in the venture but sadly died before it was finished. It was unveiled by his widow in 1993.
The diagonal pose captures perfectly the moment when Hutton sends the ball whizzing off to the boundary as he sprints off to the other crease. Ritchie carved it with ever-decreasing chisels, occasionally looking behind into a mirror so he could check the whole composition without having to do that thing artists do, standing back, forming a square with their fingers and sucking in through their teeth.
Note the carefully positioned electrical cables down the side of the work. Shoot that maintenance man!

1 comment:

Hels said...

It looks very Deco, doesn't it?