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Sculpture of Leaping Birds in front of former Bird's Eye Offices

A Grade II Listed Building in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.375 / 51°22'29"N

Longitude: -0.4112 / 0°24'40"W

OS Eastings: 510678

OS Northings: 165186

OS Grid: TQ106651

Mapcode National: GBR 40.30W

Mapcode Global: VHFTY.TPGT

Entry Name: Sculpture of Leaping Birds in front of former Bird's Eye Offices

Listing Date: 24 November 1995

Last Amended: 25 April 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1245780

English Heritage Legacy ID: 453574

Location: Elmbridge, Surrey, KT12

County: Surrey

District: Elmbridge

Electoral Ward/Division: Walton South

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Walton-on-Thames

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Walton-on-Thames

Church of England Diocese: Guildford

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Summary


Sculpture, 1960-6 by John McCarthy.

Description

Bronze semi-abstract form depicting three leaping birds. It is mounted on a rocky base within the north-facing arm of the reflective pond, adjacent to the entrance to the site. It is an integral part of the architectural composition of the Bird's Eye offices (qv Walton Court, formerly Bird's Eye Offices, National Heritage List for England, Listed Grade II, 1271706).


History

Bird’s Eye was one of the first companies to move its offices out of London, bringing all its staff together on one site in Walton-on-Thames, close to rail and airport connections. The company invested in prestigious headquarters embellished with specially commissioned works of art reflecting the image of the company.

The building, designed by Sir John Burnet, Tait and Partners and constructed in 1961-2, reflected the 1960s predilection for geometric op-art forms in the design of its curtain wall which is enhanced by the reflective pool which runs the length of the building. The project also importantly reflected the trend at the time to incorporate works of art into the design as part of the aesthetic and as a symbol of the company. In this case, standing prominently in the arm of the pool at the entrance to the site, is the sculpture of rising birds by John McCarthy. It forms an integral part of the landscape designed by Philip Hicks, that sets the office building in its suburban setting.

This integration of art in the landscape and the building is repeated elsewhere within the building. Of the two internal courtyards, also by Hicks, one is Japanese in feel, the other includes monolithic concrete sculptures by Alan Collins set among formal rectangular pools and trees. When first opened, there were flamingoes, penguins and alligators in both courtyards. Water too played its part inside the building, where, at the base of the stairs there was a shallow pool fed by water stoups.

Reasons for Listing

Bird sculpture, 1960-6 by John McCarthy, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Sculptural interest: figure of three rising birds, reflecting the image of Bird's Eye;

* Setting: integral to the design of the site, standing prominently at the entrance to Walton Court, the former Bird's Eye offices, an exemplar of the trend common to post-war commercial buildings of integrating art with architecture.

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