Faye (Middlesbrough, Janet Barry, 1987)

Updated Article

Artist Janet Barry with ‘Faye’ (courtesy of the artist)

Status: Destroyed

For a long time, we knew very little about this one, or the artist who made it. However – thanks to follower Christopher Marsden – we managed to track down sculptor Janet Barry and find out more about one of Middlesbrough’s lost statues and its creator.

Photo by David Mann

Janet Barry’s ‘Faye’ – plain cast-stone statue of a huddled woman – was part of the MIMA collection, and stood on Linthorpe Road (outside what is now Cucumber salon but was Psyche Fashion). It was installed in 1987 and stayed there until the early 2000s. It was – for a time – the only large-scale sculpture created by a woman in Middlesbrough town centre. Now there are none.

Photos by David Mann

We spoke to the artist Janet Barry via email in early 2023 and she told us a little about herself and her work.

After studying art at technical college (where she took an interest in sculpture) Barry went on to complete a degree in Fine Art at Sunderland:

“As a mature student I was delighted to obtain a First Class Honours and it opened out a lot of new interest for me, but figurative sculpture was always my main style and tackling larger work was happening. I had several exhibitions.

As far as Faye is concerned I was commissioned by Sunderland Council to build six statues in a modern style to occupy six plinths in Mowbray Park. I built six one of which was Faye and two others of similar style.

Janet Barry sometime in the mid-1980s (supplied by the artist)

Not long after the installation, the head of one was knocked off and subsequent damage ensued over time. They were removed and replaced again by urns of flowers!

As to why the sculptures were damaged, Barry is phlegmatic:

Sculpture can evoke emotive issues amongst people……Possibly because it inhabits our space it can upset.

One of these sculptures – named Faye – was later chosen Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough and installed there in 1987, bracketed in a cautious but rather ugly fashion to its plinth.

Although it lasted for around 20 years in the town, Faye eventually fared even worse than its companions in Sunderland. It was first graffitied overnight in the early 2000s before being destroyed a few weeks later. We’re not sure where the remains are now.

Thank you to Janet Barry, Christopher Marsden, Peter Rowe and David Mann for the information and photos in this archive entry. For those who are wondering how Christopher found Janet – he checked in an old phone book. Yes, I am embarrassed for not thinking of that.

Written by Daniel Cochran, 2022. Updated in 2023.

Do you have any memories, photographs or information about these artworks? If so, feel free to leave a comment or email us at northeaststatues@gmail.com

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