Ship by Bernard Reynolds
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ship by Bernard Reynolds 12018 imagesIpswich Historic Lettering: Ship by Bernard Reynolds 2
Above: the view in autumn 2018 from outside the former law courts with, right, part of St Matthew's Primary School in the background.
Constructed by this local sculptor in 1971, the following year Ship was originally sited at the foot of Civic Centre (now demolished) where it originally stood in a pool of water with six jets splashing the base. Most people recall it sitting in a dry pool.
In 1996 this sculpture was moved from its neglected position to the centre of the Civic Drive/Handford Road roundabout surrounded by planting. In this way, the sculpture gained a massive new audience of thousands of travellers a week.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ship by Bernard Reynolds 3pre-1996
The above image comes from the Ipswich Society Image Archive (see Links).
Ship is described on the Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk website (see Links) as: fibreglass sculpture in battleship grey suggesting the form of a ship – set at the top of a roundabout surrounded by plants – oriented downhill towards the docks and Felixstowe. While mainly abstract in conception and essentially a spatial exercise in sculptural form designed to be seen from multiple angles, Ship is also an arrangement of sail and hull motifs suggesting 'ships and shipping through the ages - a tribute to Ipswich as a port'.

Bernard Reynolds was born on 2 June 1915 in Norwich and lived for almost fifty years in Ipswich. In 1932, at the age of 17, he studied at Norwich School of Art. In the final year of his studies, he expressed his inclination towards sculpture. In 1937, he moved to London to continue his studies at the Westminster School of Art. One year later, Reynolds got a post as a naval instruments engineer in Norwich and this endured throughout the Second World War. This wartime experience as an engineer seems to have strengthened rather than repressed his artistic practice. In fact, craftsmanship has influenced his observations vis-a-vis nature and mankind. He constantly expanded the knowledge of materials and techniques in his sculpture studio. As he noted, "I was one who was always interested in things, in specimens, and so that brought me round strongly on the side of sculpture ... the forms of solid nature rather than views of nature."

He became an inspirational teacher over thirty-four years of art school teaching. In 1948 he gained the post at Ipswich School of Art, for which his application was very exceptional in showing evidence of his talented techniques. Thanks to him, the sculpture course in East Anglia stood out amongst other schools of art by the late fifties. As a man who 'lived by and for his art', Bernard Reynold's deep dedication to his calling was never in question. Apart from his involvement in exhibitions and teaching, Reynolds was commissioned to create sculptures for several buildings in Ipswich. He made cement reliefs on the Castle Hill and Sprites Lane schools, a stone relief on the Eastern Counties Farmers Head Office***, the pair of 22 foot Pylons which flanked the entrance to Suffolk College (now rebuilt as Suffolk New College, but the pylons survive in situ), a 24 foot stained-glass window in St. Matthew's School and the 14 foot-high Ship Fountain Sculpture at the Civic Centre show on this page. Because of it, he was awarded the Sir Otto Beit Medal for 1972. It was 'the best piece of sculpture to come to the notice of the Royal Society of British Sculptors as being set up anywhere in the British Commonwealth, excluding London, during that year'.
[*** This attribution occurs on the web, but isn't backed up ny the entry on the
Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk website.]

Bernard Reynolds died in 1997.


See also Triple Mycomorph (Fungus Form) sculpture on our Christchurch Mansion & Park page under 'The Wolsey Art Gallery/Wolsey Garden'.



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