Concrete Poetry: Exploring Britain’s post-war public art

Endangered and unsung

Brutalist artworks embedded in Britain’s mid-century estates and civic spaces are celebrated in photographer Simon Phipps’s latest book, Concrete Poetry: Post-War Modernist Public Art.

Many of the stark, geometric concrete works that feature in the book are little known. These include Anderson Charles’s collage-style sculpture at the Bannerman High School in Glasgow and Wendy Taylor’s tri-circular, bone-white Gazebo in London’s Golders Green.

Explains Phipps: ‘[these public artworks were] commissioned to enhance the public realm and by extension people’s lives.’

Photographed with their surroundings in view, Phipps shows how these sculptures have a sense of rightness in their locations while shining a light on their fragile futures – many are neglected or have been requisitioned, stored or are simply gone.

Wendy Taylor, 'Gazebo', Golders Hill Park, Golders Green, London, 1983
Wendy Taylor, ‘Gazebo’, Golders Hill Park, Golders Green, London, 1983

Estates and civic buildings have been demolished and the artworks that adorned them have been destroyed or missing, said Phipps. ‘I thought that this was something worth documenting.’

Concrete Poetry: Post-War Modernist Public Art is out now

Unknown artist, Halifax
Unknown artist, Halifax
Victor Pasmore, ‘Apollo Pavillion’, Oakerside Drive, Peterlee, County Durham, 1969
Harry Noble, 'The Elephant', Coventry Sports Centre, Fairfax Street, Coventry, 1973-77
Harry Noble, ‘The Elephant’, Coventry Sports Centre, Fairfax Street, Coventry, 1973-77

Read next: Go inside Britain’s post-war architecture

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