Coventry UK City of Culture 2021
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Popular Coventry sculpture returns to city centre [News]

Published: Wednesday, 07 July 2021

The Naiad Statue

A popular sculpture is set to return to the centre of Coventry as it celebrates being UK City of Culture 2021.

The water nymph statue, called The Naiad, has had several homes around the city and, is now being placed in the Upper Precinct.

More than 60 years ago, she was created by artist George Wagstaffe, based on a woman he met on holiday.

Mr Wagstaffe said the statue was "going to be seen far more than she has ever been seen before".

It was based in Earl Street Courtyard, opposite the council house for 50 years, but then was put into storage before being reinstalled at the Friargate building in 2018.

News last year that The Naiad would be returning to a prominent outdoor location was welcomed by many residents on social media.

Mr Wagstaffe, now in his 80s, based the figure on a girl called Doreen he met while in Cornwall and created the sculpture as part of his degree course in 1957.

"She was very beautiful, her hair was right down her back and she did pose for me. She sat on a rock and splashed her feet in the water, that's why Naiad has no feet because I couldn't see her feet," Mr Wagstaffe said.

"It is very rare that I like my work, but Naiad was quite important to me."

The sculpture was initially put in a skip, but Mr Wagstaffe said he took it to his parent's greenhouse and repaired it before it was bought by Coventry city architect Arthur Ling.

First made in clay and plaster, it was later cast in bronze.

Hoardings around the new site are set to be removed on Monday.

Mr Wagstaffe said his muse Doreen had no idea the statue existed and died two years ago aged 81.

He said the sculpture had "been through so many changes, so many situations, and now here she is being almost brought back in triumph to a lovely setting".

"Although she has become part of Coventry and people like her, I think now it is going in the precinct it will be seen by many more people and be even more important," he added.

Niad Statue being revealed in Coventry