The long-awaited 'stag' sculpure arrives at Wimbledon station
By julie_cross | Thursday, June 21, 2012, 17:55
Half a million tennis fans will be the first to see the much anticipated Stag sculpture which was unveiled outside Wimbledon station today.
Merton Mayor David Williams and artist Isabelle Southwood at the unveiling of Wimbledon's newest piece of art. Photo courtesy of Andrew Wakefield.
Thousands of spectators expected to flood through Wimbledon Station over the Championship over the next few weeks will be greeted by the privately funded Stag as they arrive in the town centre, as well as the thousands of Olympic ticket holders travelling to Wimbledon at the end of July.
Mayor of Merton, Councillor David Williams, who unveiled the three metre high sculpture, said: "We are proud to welcome the Stag to Wimbledon. We hope he will be as affectionately regarded as the Two Fat Ladies and become an iconic meeting place for years to come."
Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said Merton was blessed to have both urban and rural surroundings on the doorstep.
"The Stag is the perfect way to remind us that when we have finished our shopping among the hustle and bustle of our vibrant town centre, we can wander up the hill and enjoy the peace and calm of Wimbledon Common," he said.
The steel sculpture is the final part of the £2.5m Wimbledon town centre improvement project 'Destination Wimbledon' funded by Transport for London(TfL) as part of the Mayor of London's Better Streets Initiative, and Network Rail and South West Trains.
Merton Council has implemented the town centre improvements which include a diagonal pedestrian crossing at the junction of Wimbledon Bridge with Alexandra Road as well as new paving, tree planting and new street furniture such as cycle racks and seating. The new station forecourt completes the improvements and as well as the Stag includes new paving, trees, seating and feature lighting.
The Stag was chosen by the public from a range of designs submitted by local artists and was commissioned and paid for by a developer as part of an arts fund for the area. At the event, invited guests, residents and businesses enjoyed dancing from local dance troupe, Dancebites, as well as cakes and coffee provided by local business, Kaldi Coffee, before gathering round to witness the unveiling of the Stag.
Created by local artist Isabelle Southwood, the sculpture is made from 25mm thick steel designed to withstand all wind and weathers. Stags were once a regular feature on Wimbledon Common during the Iron Age. The stag stands on the station forecourt as if it had wandered down the hill, linking together Wimbledon Town Centre's heritage and its relationship with the Common.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson added: "The face of London is transforming before our very eyes and I am delighted with the improvements taking place through my Great Outdoors programme. Whether they are new green spaces, town squares or infrastructure improvements, each project is transforming a new corner of London into a better place to use and enjoy.
"Wimbledon is set to play a starring role during the Games and it's fantastic the area has been made brighter, cleaner and more welcoming for the thousands of visitors heading to London for this summer like no other."