Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Commemorating George Vancouver

click photo to enlarge
The last decades of the twentieth century saw a revival of public sculpture in Britain. Local government and private developers sought to enhance public spaces by commissioning abstract and figurative pieces that gave a focus and interest to their immediate surroundings. It's not an exaggeration to say that it became something of an obsession, and moved from straightforward sculpture as the Victorians would have understood it to include the sculptural embellishment of ordinary street furniture.

Allegorical figures, birds, "environmental" pieces, seating, garden sculpture, panorama information boards, and more were erected in the years around the turn of the millennium. So too were some sculptures of people. However, unlike the Victorians we fought shy of commemorating the living (or even recently deceased), and seemed to concentrate on "filling in the gaps" i.e. erecting statues of some of those who were overlooked in past centuries. This, combined with a desire to celebrate and emphasise the individuality of smaller towns, led to explorers finding some favour in Lincolnshire, with Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) in Spilsby and Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) in Donington. Norfolk ("Nelson's County" as its boundary boards style it) also chose to commemorate an explorer. The King's Lynn resident, George Vancouver (1757-1798) was a Royal Navy captain responsible for exploring and mapping much of the coast of British Columbia, Alaska, Washington and Oregon, and after whom a number of North American locations are named.

Today's photograph shows his statue near the Customs House (built 1683) in King's Lynn. I suppose this image could be described as my attempt at a "tourist brochure" shot, embracing as it does the statue, building, anchors, chains, and cobbles of the dock surround. However, there's probably not enough blue in the sky, and those intruding cars certainly need physically or digitally removing before it could be considered fit for that purpose!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f13.
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On