Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Cheltenham acquired a new piece of public art earlier this year: a statue of Gustav Holst now stands in the centre of the fountain in Imperial Gardens. (Holst was born in Cheltenham in 1874.)

Holst's fame resting as it does on his composition of The Planets, they are listed on the fountain's surround. What will future generations make of the sponsors' names which accompany each planet on its plaque I wonder? The name of the sculptor, Anthony Stones also appears prominently on the base of the statue itself, the lettering being somewhat larger than that of Holst's own name!

But what really irks me about the statue is that, first, it is too small for its situation, and secondly it portrays the composer as a conductor. (He is incidentally shown wearing a cummerbund as part of his evening dress: wouldn't he have worn a white waistcoat?) Someone like the contemporary composer Pierre Boulez could well in due course be immortalised with a baton in his hand: surely not though the shy Gustav Holst, whose topple backwards from a podium contributed to his death at the comparatively early age of 59.

Having carped sufficiently, I have to say that the rebuilt fountain seems to have become a popular meeting place, and the ornamental grasses planted round it look great!

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