by ANTONY CLAY
ONCE upon a time a very distinctive statue used to leave the more senior visitors to Doncaster’s old Arndale Centre in a bit of a tizz.
Puritanical eyes were firmly turned away from two figures who dominated the main walkway of the former shopping centre.
The cause of such annoyance was a piece of art called The Lovers which stood next to the indoor fountain for years but which in the Eighties mysteriously disappeared.
For some back in the day the vanishing did not come soon enough.
The statue in question was of two figures in a state of love-inspired elation — and joined rather suggestively at the hip.
It was too ‘modern’ for many Donny folk back in the 1970s, as well as being thought ‘rather rude’.
Youngsters, like me back then, would snigger at the two figures and it was something of a talking point amongst hormone-riddled teens.
Over the years I often wondered where the two lovers had got to.
Now the statue is back and hopefully appreciated a little more in these artistically enlightened times. I hope so.
The two figures can be found in the Waterdale shopping area near Doncaster Library.
The statue was created by architect Eckehart Selke for the Arndale Centre when it opened in 1967.
His boss thought it was somewhat inappropriate but, as these things do, it was built anyway.
When revealed there were self-rightous inhalations of breath and hotness under plenty of collars in the town. Questions were asked. People wanted it gone.
But, and this is the reason I always liked it, the statue didn’t budge an inch for a long time and just stood there indignantly waving two fingers (metaphorically speaking) at the fuddy-duddies.
But where did The Lovers go in their wilderness years? My fear was that the artwork had been melted down and become part of a bridge or piece of tatty jewellery.
But no! The Lovers had been biding its time in a garden in Bessacarr.
It made a proud return to the town centre — well, slightly away from the town centre — in around 2015 after a search for its whereabouts.
Now the statue stands proudly on a busy shopping street close to the town’s library and Cast Theatre, hips joined as passionately as ever.
For me, I’m glad it’s back in the town. It was as much a part of my childhood memories of Doncaster as the old Gaumont cinema and the SIX places where you could buy records in the one shopping centre.
But unlike the record shops and the Gaumont, The Lovers has survived.
It may not be a Henry Moore or Barbara Hepworth, but I like the fact that it’s there and remains a bit of public culture.
Good art always survives.