The largest site-specific public work by the late British artist Anthony Caro in the UK—at a place where the sculptor and his wife, the artist Shelia Girling, used to sit and eat fish and chips—looks good as new after its restoration. Sea Music (1991) on Poole Quay in Dorset, England, needed conservation after 25 years of exposure to the salty sea air and detritus from barges being loaded.
Commissioned by the Poole Arts Council, Sea Music—ones of Caro’s “sculpitecture” pieces—was inspired by a 19th-century photograph of the ships sailing into the harbour. “It was Caro’s gift to the city of Poole,” says the project’s manager Melinda McCheyne. “It was a way to promote arts in the town and show what a good piece of public art could add to it.”
Planning for the restoration, conducted by the firm Hall Conservation, began before Caro died in 2013, with the artist requesting that the installation’s railing and three platforms be repainted silver so as to distinguish them from the blue sculpture. Caro’s studio supplied original paint samples and the artist’s son, Paul, advised on the project. Among the activities to celebrate the restoration are a lecture series, an exhibition of 14 sculptures from Caro’s Concerto series at the Poole Museum and a new publication on Sea Music.