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Frank Dobson’s Sculpture In Whitechapel

January 13, 2017
by the gentle author

Woman & Fish by Frank Dobson in situ

Frank Dobson Sq in Whitechapel, where Cambridge Heath Rd meets Cephas St, was constructed in 1963 and named after the Clerkenwell-born sculptor whose ‘Woman & Fish’ formed the handsome centrepiece of the Cleveland Estate. Dobson’s sculpture of two figures entitled ‘London Pride’ situated outside the National Theatre serves a similar function on the South Bank.

Yet in 2002, Dobson’s sculpture was removed from its plinth in Whitechapel following a series of vandalisations which damaged it beyond repair, leaving a gaping hole in the streetscape to this day. In 2006, Tower Hamlets Council commissioned Antonio Lopez Reche to make a bronze replica, cast at a foundry in Limehouse, which was installed in Millwall Park on the Isle of Dogs in 2007.

The original installation of Frank Dobson’s sculpture at the Cleveland Estate celebrated the work of a major British sculptor in the year of his death and embodied a progressive belief in the importance of high quality public art as a means to improve the urban environment. Now residents of Whitechapel have raised a petition to return ‘Woman & Fish’ to the empty plinth in Frank Dobson Sq with improved lighting and security cameras to ensure its safety, restoring a cherished East End landmark to its rightful place.

Click here to sign the petition to restore Frank Dobson’s sculpture to Whitechapel

The plinth in Cambridge Heath Rd has been empty since 2002

Fifteen years after the removal of his sculpture, it is still ‘Frank Dobson Sq’

Bronze replica by Antonio Lopez Reche in Millwall Park on the Isle of Dogs

Woman & Fish

London Pride by Frank Dobson outside the National Theatre on the South Bank

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Franta Belska’s Sculpture in Bethnal Green

Philip Lindsey Clark’s Sculptures in Widegate St

Dorothy Annan’s Murals in the Barbican

4 Responses leave one →
  1. January 13, 2017

    I hope Frank returns soon to Cambridge Heath Road – it could do with brightening up.

  2. January 13, 2017

    So much character is being drained from the area – it would be inspiring for some of it to come back. I’ve signed the petition and circulated it as much as I can.

  3. Susan Goldman permalink
    January 14, 2017

    I remember that statue so well from my childhood. It used to be surrounded by water and one day, myself, younger sister and a friend decided to go swimming there during the summer holidays. We wrapped our swimming costumes in towels, as we used to do when we went to the swimming baths, but when we got there we ‘chickened out’ when our friend’s swimsuit blew away as she was unwrapping it. Nevertheless we decided to carry on, and paddled instead with our dresses tucked into our knickers. I was surprised we didn’t get told off, but it was all so innocent. Probably about 1964-5.

  4. Sharon Newton permalink
    November 11, 2017

    Historic England lists this sculpture as being scrapped…

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