A number of striking sculptures and artworks can be seen around Chichester Festival Theatre. Here is a brief guide:
Plaque commemorating HM The Queen’s visit to Chichester Festival Theatre on 30 November 2017. The plaque, of Welsh slate, was commissioned from Sussex-based lettercutter Helen Mary Skelton and her team; Helen Mary is the daughter of the late renowned sculptor John Skelton, whose work includes the font in Chichester Cathedral. The design and drawing was by Chris Elsey, with the letters carved by Alyosha Moeran under Chris Elsey’s tutelage. It was unveiled by the Queen in the foyer and later installed on the front of the Festival Theatre, above the Foundation Stone which was laid by HRH Princess Alexandra in 1961.
Oedipus This statue of the Greek mythological tragic hero by Trude Bunzl (1904-1982) was donated to the Festival Theatre in 1984 by Mr and Mrs K Reidl, the sister and brother-in-law of the artist, at the instigation of their friends Mr and Mrs Lustig. It stands on the terrace outside the Minerva Brasserie.
Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus Rex is followed by Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, collectively known as the three Theban plays. Oedipus unknowingly fulfilled a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother, thereby bringing disaster to his city and family. Oedipus represents two enduring themes of Greek myth and drama: the flawed nature of humanity and an individual's role in the course of destiny in a harsh universe.
Spartacus The sculptor Tom Merrifield was renowned for his sculptures of dancers and moving figures. This bronze statue of a dancer in the role of Spartacus, the leader of the slave uprising against the Romans, was inspired by the Bolshoi Ballet performance of Khachaturian’s ballet in London. He placed the statue on permanent loan to CFT in 1988; it’s situated on the edge of Oaklands Park, opposite the Theatre’s main entrance.
Minerva This statue was commissioned from Philip Jackson in 1997 by the Chichester Festival Theatre Society to commemorate the life and work of the Theatre’s founder, Leslie Evershed-Martin, and sits outside the entrance to the Minerva Theatre. Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of the arts, music and poetry, as well as being associated with warfare. More work by Philip Jackson can be seen at Chichester Cathedral, notably the statue of St Richard of Chichester which stands in the forecourt.
Murmuration (2020) Hanging in the Minerva Theatre atrium, this work by contemporary British sculptor, Helen Solly, creates a sense of movement using abstract shapes made from transformed sheet metal in animated flowing forms. This piece was inspired by the stunning starling murmuration viewed from Brighton pier.
Painting Intervention (2014) During the Renew project to restore and refurbish CFT, Antoni Malinowski painted the new surfaces of the Festival Theatre foyer using paints that reflect and refract the light, intuitively tracing the light movements on the ceilings of the new café wings and on the panels behind the stairs. His choice of shapes and colours echo those found in the building and the surrounding park.
Play of Light (2014) Projected onto two raw concrete walls in the foyer, Play of Light was created in a computer programme for experimenting with three dimensional digital objects. Semiconductor - UK artist duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt - created shadows cast through different architectural features of the building. Both walls had their own distinct projection which explores each scene from a different angle.
When we reopened in July 2021, we revealed reimagined spaces in our Festival Theatre cafés and bar. By working with Randell Design Group’s interior design team, we created warm and inviting spaces which evoke a sense of community, colour, fun and most importantly 'theatre'. We are proud to have supported local and regional companies and craftspeople. You can find out more in this short news article.