National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Basilica

Summary

Type Building , Sculpture

     The artist has described the work thus: 'The sculpture uses the displacement of two stacks of identical (in plan) triangular stone slabs to produce a sic sided arch with curved, flush and stepped surfaces. The 12 triangular units fuse at the top in a square slab spanning the arms of the arch. The arch faces dues north and is designed to register seasonal and daily light changes. For example, in winter the back light will emphasise the stepped arch space while the top summer light will stress the solids. Also as its plan lies diagonally to the daily eat west track of the sun, the light should animate in turn each face of the sculpture throughout the day. At night the street lights flatten the mass and strengthen the outline. The piece is intended to be self-contained but it nevertheless does pick up on the façade of the building in terms of the colour, layering and relief of its materials. . . The stone comes from three different quarries and from four different beds. It is arranged in the sculpture in approximately the same order it lay in the ground. The top four tiers are Purbeck Limestone from the Thornback and Wetsom beds; the second tier is from the Purbeck Spangle bed and the first course is Portland basebed. There is thin drainage course of grey Indian Granite between the sculpture and brick base.'(1)
     The work has been likened to a judge's wig.(2) The work cost £20,000 The stone was supplied by W. J. Haysom and Son, H. F. Bonfield and Sons, Easton masonry Ltd and Frank England and Co ltd. The foundations, brick base, landscaping and installation were done by Parker and Morewood Ltd, while the site work was supervised by Frank Brophy of the John Madin Design Group, architects of the court buildings. The sculpture was officially unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor W. A. Hardy on 18 February 1991. The work was commissioned by the Lord Chancellor's Department 'in the plan for Coventry's £6 million Combined Court Centre [in recognition of] the importance of the building in its immediate architectural environment and the Department's wish to contribute to the civic scene'.(3)
     The title of the work 'Basilica' is taken from the Greek 'basilike' meaning king's house. This also refers to the Roman law courts where the judge and jurors sat in the apse of a basilica under an archway. The word is also used to describe one of the first legal codes.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
De Monchaux, Paul Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Sculpture Purbeck and Portland limestone, and Frankland Grey Granite 280cm high x 300cm wide x 230cm deep approx.
None None weight 18 tons approx.

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMcvCVxx085 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • No damage
Structural condition
  • None
Vandalism
  • None
Road Much Park Street
Precise location Outside the County Courts
A-Z ref None
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design December 1989 - January 1991
Year of unveiling 1991
Unveiling details 18 February 1991
Commissioned by Lord Chancellor's Department
Duty of care County Court
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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