There has been a market in the medieval walled town of Wareham, Dorset for 700 years. A place where people met, once a week, either to bring their produce and livestock for sale – or to buy it. And so it is today. Except that the cattle and livestock market ceased in 1974. Cottees, who have managed the market for 100 years, also hold weekly auctions of lots of furniture, antiques, and a great assortment of bric-a-brac.
Cottees principal, Ward Bullock felt that it was desirable to have some form of monument which would not only celebrate a hundred years of Cottees, but also visually represent the 700 years existence of a market in Wareham. He had not heard of Jonathan Sells, but after seeing some of his sculptures in various parts of Dorset, sought him out and Jonathan was charged with the task of producing an appropriate statue.
This visionary artist, in 2001, set to and produced clay models of his vision. The final design was approved and the deal was done. The first few months were spent trawling the quarries seeking out the best piece of Portland Stone for the job. A cube of stone 9ft high, 6ft x 6ft base and weighing 12 tons(!) was found and transported to a farmyard near Swanage where work commenced.
A year and a half later the completed work was taken to Cottees Wareham market and placed on its specially cast concrete plinth. The statue was officially unveiled by the Mayor of Wareham, Councillor Keith Green and his wife, Vera on Tuesday July 22, 2003.
Close inspection of this visionary work shows that most of the faces are the features of real people: Cottees employees, or well-known people who frequent the market. The face of the butcher is Ward Bullock. There is sardonic humour too: Look beneath the butcher’s table and see a hand – representing survival – scrabbling about on the floor for scraps!
Mr Bullock said: “There has been a market in Wareham for 700 years and this shows the history of the market in a single block of stone.” He added: “It is something in memory of gentler times and we are all proud of the statue.” Ward’s personal financing of this venture included selling his beloved ‘classic’ Porsche 911 car. “It still hurts!” he told me last Tuesday.
(Photos on this page: Nick Harries)