Swindon Borough Council is planning to install several examples of public art along the town's eastern junctions as part of the New Eastern Villages expansion project

But its attempt to bring new art to Swindon has called into question a perceived lack of action towards preserving the town's already existing pieces, as well remaining anger over the the closure of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

Read: Council looking to install new public art displays in Swindon

Swindon Advertiser: Examples of the public art the council is looking to commissionExamples of the public art the council is looking to commission

It has launched a public consultation to get their thoughts on the proposed pieces of artwork it would like to commission which includes posting on social media to get people to respond.

Although most people initially welcomed the addition of more pubic art in Swindon, the posts have backfired for the council as people have questioned what it will be doing, or has already done, about existing public art displays in desperate need of attention. 

Several people responded to a post on Twitter from the council that stated 'Public art has the power to transform and enhance places into spaces which are more distinctive and vibrant'.

Angela Atkinson said:"It does! So why do you so badly neglect so much of our existing public art?! The west sculpture walk being one example. Are you even aware that we have such a thing?"

The council's decision to close the Old Town-based museum and art gallery despite a prolonged effort from campaigners consequently taking many pieces of artwork away from public viewing, was also mentioned.

Emma Williams said: "Shame we can't see the public art that is owned by Swindonians at SMAG. Public art is what it says on the tin... public which means we have a right to see it now not years later."

Darren Dunne added: "Wouldn't it be great if our town's leaders invested in some kind of art gallery and/or museum to showcase all the towns artifacts. There's a big building just about standing in the railway village that could do a job."

Current plans for the art formerly on display at Apsley House involve turning the Civic Offices into a museum space

Swindon Advertiser: Tony Robson restoring The WatchersTony Robson restoring The Watchers

But, despite clear feeling it could do more, the council has taken some action to ensure Swindon's artworks are preserved. 

The 1982 Toothill statue 'The Watchers' was restored by stonemason Tony Robson in 2020 after being beheaded in an act of vandalism. Councillor Keith Williams authorised the repair work to be carried out. 

“I was extremely sad to hear that the statue had been vandalised, but I’m glad to have been able to authorise the work for the people of Toothill and I’m delighted to see how well the restoration project is coming along," he said at the time. 

Read: Beheaded Toothill statue The Watchers restored after vandalism attack

Read: Famous acrobat statue brought back to life

Other pieces have been brough back to life following the intervention of Parish Councils - such as the famous acrobat sculpture The Great Blondinis.

Central Swindon North Parish council decided it was badly in need of repair and should be renovated so commissioned artist Tim Carroll to give it a vibrant face-lift. 

Swindon Advertiser: Tim Carrol works on repainting the famous sculptureTim Carrol works on repainting the famous sculpture

Cabinet member for strategic infrastructure and planning, Gary Sumner, had previously explained why he wanted to add new public art to the NEV development, and even cited Swindon's existing artwork as a reason.

“There are already some fantastic examples of public artwork in Swindon and the New Eastern Villages development provides us with an excellent opportunity to introduce more unique pieces into the Borough," he said. 

“I think our artists have done a great job of capturing the local character of the area in their designs and these sculptures will be a welcome addition to Swindon's eastern gateways.

“I would really like to encourage as many residents as possible to come forward with their thoughts on the artwork.

"You can visit the Council’s website for more details on the individual proposals.”

The artwork is being commissioned with funding secured through external grants.

To have your say on the new artworks go to the council website here.