National Recording Project


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

Waiting for Halley's Comet?


Type Sculpture

     The sculpture consists of a group of seven figures, six of which are dancing while holding hands in a manner reminisicent of Matisse's 'Dance II' 1909-10. Each figure is cut from a flat sheet of metal and colourfully painted. The central figure is raised upon a plinth and waves a scarf-like banner painted with a cresent moon and several stars. The circle surrounds an area in which a time capsule is buried. Members of the community were asked to donate items representative of Smethwick in the 1980s to be placed in the capsule.
     The artist produced this sculpture during his first year as Town Artist for Sandwell. Although the post was jointly funded by West Midlands Arts and the County Council, Gomila maintained a certain amount of independence from the local authority. The work was reputedly disliked by the Chair of the County Council's Planning Committee, who considered it 'inappropriate'.
     The sculpture was made shortly after the passing of Halley's comet in 1986, which is not expected to be visible from the earth again until 2051.Malcolm Harris, Chief Planner at the time, described the work as celebrating 'the renewal of the area', but Gomila himself saw it as representing the uncertainty of the times. In his words: 'Everyone seems to be waiting for something - a job, a new house .. The return of Halley's Comet heralds a time of change .. What will Smethwick be like when the comet returns?'

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Gomila, Francis Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Figures Sheet metal, painted Central figure 3.5m approx, circle approx 5.2m diameter

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMsaSMxx010 BM
General condition Fair
Surface condition
  • Corrosion, Deterioration
Structural condition
  • None
  • Graffiti
  • Surface damage
Road High Street
Precise location On grass bank between High Street and Tollhouse Way
A-Z ref 57 5H
OS ref SP017889
Date of design 1985-86
Year of unveiling 1986
Unveiling details 1986
Commissioned by West Midlands County Council
Duty of care Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? At Risk

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