First glimpse of repaired risque ‘Lovers’ statue

The Lovers' statue undergoing repair.
The Lovers' statue undergoing repair.

Here is the first glimpse of an iconic artwork which is set to return to Doncaster later this year after undergoing repair.

The infamous ‘Lovers’ statue, which graced the Arndale Centre, now Frenchgate Centre, up until the mid 1980s, is set to bounce back after plans were unveiled to rebuild the risque model in the Waterdale Shopping Centre.

The statue - which shows a naked couple embracing - raised eyebrows and was considered controversial when it was first unveiled to the public at the centre’s opening in 1968.

It remained on display until the mid 1980s when it was removed as part of the complex’s rebranding to the Frenchgate Centre.

From then on, its whereabouts remained a mystery until 2006 when it was announced that the sculpture had been installed in a garden in Bessacarr.

In an interview given to the Free Press at the time, then owner Tina Gavin, explained how she had inherited the Henry Moore style artwork with her home but had been looking to part with it.

She said: “If I could do anything with it I would but we don’t want it stuck in a corner somewhere really. It’s a shame not to have it on show, isn’t it? I would rather it was seen by a lot more people. It wants to be somewhere like the racecourse, somewhere where people in Doncaster see it. We haven’t really got a lot of nice sculptures, have we?”

Ms Gavin, a property developer, ended up inheriting the statue in 2001.

She said: “When I bought the house and saw it I said ‘that’s the statue from the Arndale Centre’. There are so many people who remember it. People all have different memories of it. They say ‘I used to meet my boyfriend there’ or ‘I used to meet my mum there’ and that kind of thing. It’s made such an impression on people’s lives. It’s been out in the open but its in good condition.”

Regeneration specialist St.Modwen, owners of Waterdale, are behind the plans to bring the statue back to Doncaster, almost 30 years since it was last on public display.

The company has submitted a planning application to erect the statue within the centre later this year.

St Modwen inherited the ‘Lovers’ when the centre was purchased in 2013 but the fibre glass statue was in poor condition following a number of years in storage.

The company has since made a considerable investment to restore and maintain the statue, working with local art group, Artfuel, to carry out repair work.

Work to date includes restructuring the hands and feet, rewelding the internal fibre glass structure and recolouring.

Amanda Hughes- Lubeck from Artfuel said: “The statue was in a state of disrepair when we began the restoration work and it has taken a considerable amount of work to bring it back to its former glory. The statue is quite delicate so it is important that it is made sufficiently robust before going back on public display.”