Gardener Tending His Flowers / Shopper and Child (Middlesbrough, Graham Ibbeson, 1984)

Status: Removed

These two statues – made from fibreglass – used to stand on plinths just outside the Cleveland Centre on Linthorpe Road. Both were early works by Barnsley’s Graham Ibbeson (who later created the Scales of Justice statue outside the Teesside Combined Courts), and were based on members of his own family: The Gardener Tending Flowers is Ibbeson’s father-in-law Charlie, while the Shopper and Child were modelled on Graham’s wife Carol (who is also the model for Ibbeson’s Scales of Justice, as well as other statues around the UK) and son Max (who is pointing excitedly at his grandad). Ibbeson wanted to celebrate the everyday, with statues representative of the town’s people.

A press release for Street Art Works (courtesy of Tony Duggan)

The statues both appeared in 1984 as part of The Urban Programme, a government initiative that granted funds for public works in the 80s and 90s.

The Shopper & Child being installed in on Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough by council blacksmith Brian (courtesy of the artist).

Their lifespan wasn’t entirely without incident; they tended to attract late night revellers from the local pubs and clubs (a few of our followers mentioned the odd pair of knickers dangling forlornly from the Gardener of a Saturday morning). The Shopper lost an arm a few years after installation with Ibbeson (who described himself to me as a “champion bodger”) called in to make the repair.

The Gardener, Shopper and Child watched over the town centre until the early 90s, before being removed when the area was remodelled. Afterwards, the statues were kept in storage at Stewart Park, before ending up in the garden of Ayresome School in 2004 (where they were repainted by staff and students). I’ve not managed to get over to see if they’re still there. If anyone knows, drop me a message.

Many thanks to the invaluable Tony Duggan, former Development Manager at Middlesbrough Council, for providing additional information on these works.

4 thoughts on “Gardener Tending His Flowers / Shopper and Child (Middlesbrough, Graham Ibbeson, 1984)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s