The Sculpture ‘Marmite’ Question:

What do you love?

ralph brown meat porters
Ralph Brown, Meat Porters, 1959, bronze, exh. Royal Academy, London, photo: (c) Estate of Ralph Brown.

What do you hate?

william behnes sir henry havelock
William Behnes, Sir Henry Havelock, 1861, bronze, Trafalgar Square, London WC2, photo: (c) Richard George.

Johanna Baring: Curator of The Ingram Collection replies:

‘I love Meat Porters by Ralph Brown (1928-2013), conceived as a public commission for Harlow New Town’s Market Square in 1959, it is recognised as the artist’s most significant sculptural work. This monumental bronze, conveying visceral brutality and a dark sensuality, combined with Brown’s keen social engagement, is a wonderful example of post-war public art in Britain.

At The Ingram Collection we have acquired another cast of this magnificent sculpture. The Ingram Collection contains nearly 100 examples of twentieth-century British Sculpture, ranging from preparatory maquettes to monumental bronzes. Acquiring Meat Porters – a Grade II listed public monument – has significantly added to the range of sculpture in this publicly accessible collection.

My sculpture marmite is Sir Henry Havelock by William Behnes in Trafalgar Square, also a Grade II listed monument. Nineteenth-century public sculptures like this are so anodyne that people just walk past them – they are practically invisible. If you stopped anyone on the street to ask their opinions on the art in Trafalgar Square, talk would inevitably turn to the contemporary pieces commissioned for the 4th plinth, which I think is great! We are supposed to look at public art, have an opinion on it, take a view, not simply walk past it. The more people talking about our public art, the more people who are aware of it, the better!’