October 1, 2015
Walkers give their opinions on Burnham's seafront lions art display

A unique display of 50 concrete lions has been installed on Burnham's seafront to mark the start of a month-long display for Somerset Art Weeks.

The concrete structures are set up to symbolically guard Burnham's coastline as part of a special art project on the South Esplanade.

Artist Rebecca Moss, pictured below, has modelled her army of 50 Chinese-style 'Foo dog' lions from a pair of 18th century statues that sit by the quayside in Bridgwater.

Rebecca took inspiration from William Ackerman's Castle House in the town, which is believed to be the earliest surviving example of modern reinforced concrete construction in Britain. The project, called 'Guardians', has been commissioned by Somerset Art Weeks for this year's festival which runs through October. spoke to several seafront walkers about what they think of the display.

Anne Watkins told "They're fantastic - really lovely. Burnham needs different things like this that make you stop and think."

June Brown added: "They're very different - really nice - and quite a surprise to come across on the seafront."

Peter Pilling said: "They're nearly as good as Weston's Banksy and, best of all, you don't have to queue to see them!"

Tracy Delaney added: "I'm a bit bewildered by them - they're certainly eye catching, but I don't really understand them."

And Rob Andrews added: "I like them but think they need some colour like the Grommits in Bristol last year and then re-located around the town centre."

Graham Scholes added: "I don't understand them at all - they just appear to be lines of garden ornaments to me."

Sally Newall added: "It's certainly a different display for the seafront. Everyone has their own opinion about art like this and I respect that - I actually think they're thought-provoking."

Sedgemoor District Council has welcomed the display. Its spokeswoman Claire Faun told "We are delighted that the Somerset Art Week installation on Burnham-On-Sea South Esplanade is to remain in situ for the entire month of October, thus covering the half-term holiday which is important for the town’s tourist trade."

"Staff at Sedgemoor have been involved with the planning of the art installation for many weeks, giving advice on the safest and most visible place for the Lions, as well as dealing with the organisers over insurance, health and safety and have given permission for them to be placed on the South Esplanade. During the month-long installation, staff from Sedgemoor’s Clean Surroundings section will keep a daily eye on the statues."

Rebecca said: "By mounting the lions near the sea wall, I want people to consider the contrast between the functional and ornamental uses of concrete. I want to interpret the fascinating local industrial heritage to explore the significant change that happened when ornamental features were mass-produced by pouring concrete into moulds. Before this change occurred, decorative architecture would have been hand sculpted in stone over a long period of time."


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