Resurgence (Darlington, John Hoskin, 1970)

John Hoskin’s ‘Resurgence’ is another piece of public art which aimed to celebrate (and inspire) urban renewal. Like Brian Wall’s ‘Thornaby’ or Edward Bainbridge Copnall’s ‘Family Group’ in Billingham, this sculpture was designed to embody the town’s rebirth, and also to celebrate its recovery after the loss of the railway industry. Hoskin had won a 1967 competition (organised by the Darlington Lions Club) to win the commission.

‘Resurgence’ was – like ‘Family Group’ – unveiled by royalty. In this case it was Princess Anne (shown here with the sculptor) who did the honours on May 27th 1970. Famously, she was not taken with the piece, as reported in Michael Palin’s published diary, ‘Halfway to Hollywood’:

“I have a glass of wine, sign some autographs and meet Kate Adie – a rather dynamic lady who tells me that she was with Princess Anne unveiling something in Darlington. It turned out to be a particularly unprepossessing plaque to ‘The Spirit of New Darlington’ and, as everyone applauded, Princess Anne leaned over to Kate Adie and muttered a heartfelt: ‘F*** me!”

(2nd November 1980)

The sculpture is formed of sheets of steel, bolted to one another, and supported by beams. It was commissioned by Darlington Lions Club, with help from the Arts Council. You can find it outside the Darlington Town Hall.

Thanks again to Simon Phipps from New Brutalism for the photograph of the sculpture. His new book ‘Brutal North’ is out now and is fantastic.

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