Cambridge City Council
Walter ‘Snowy’ Farr MBE was a prominent and colourful charity fundraiser well known to the people of Cambridge and a familiar sight on Market Square and in Petty Cury. On his death, it was agreed a permanent sculpture should be commissioned memorialising his life and work. Plan Projects was commissioned to manage the process leading to the appointment of an artist to undertake the work.
The work, now installed, sits in south western corner of Market Square, close to the Guildhall. This part of the city is a Conservation Area and the Guildhall itself is a listed building. Special attention was therefore paid to how the work should operate in counterpoint to this sensitive heritage setting. Moreover, the Square itself is one of the main destinations in Cambridge for shopping, tourism and social activity and Petty Cury one of the principal retail streets and public thoroughfares. Careful thought was therefore given to the circulation of people around the piece to ensure it did not create an obstacle in a busy urban environment.
The public were invited by the project team to comment on the five sketch proposals put forward by artists invited to submit proposals. A series of exhibitions in accessible locations were set up for this purpose. The approach to the consultation was carefully managed: people were not asked to vote for a favourite artwork but rather to provide their thoughts on the appropriateness of the proposals. The project team received a total of 82 responses throughout the three weeks of the consultation period.
The British sculptor Gary Webb was selected to deliver the commission. The art work, now in position in Market Square, is in the main abstract; the artist felt that this approach was the most powerful way of expressing Snowy’s ‘eccentric English character’. The use of recognisable features such as a hat, a cat and mice and colours, which relate to the outfit Snowy often wore, have been incorporated to spark the memory of Snowy to passers-by.