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Déjà Vu Art. A Girl Behind the Statue. Sculpture of a Girl's Head in Two Countries

A statue of a girl head in profile above clouds and blue sky
,,Dreams'' 20 meter high statue by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa at Sutton Manor Copyright Agnes Romaniuk

This summer I visited Sutton Manor Park (United Kingdom) and then L'Abbaye-aux-Hommes in Caen (Normandie) in France.

I found a sculpture of a girl's head in both of these countries, but what they have in common is a similar profile of the girl's face, but in different colors.

a black girl face sculpture in the middle on the green lawn and old abbey in the background
Lou sculpture by Jaume Plensa Copyright Agnes Romaniuk

,,Ex terra lucem: from the earth comes light''.

Sutton Manor Colliery was the only pit within the former St. Helen boundary to be opened during 20th Century and last to close. It dates back to May 1906 when No.1 shaft was sunk.

In the 1960s Sutton Manor employed 1 500 men producing more than 600 000 tonnes of coal a year. It closed in 1991, but significant coal reserves remain underground.

Stewardship of the site passed to the Forestry Commision and more than 50 000 new trees were planted around Sutton Manor, creating a wonderful public green space. However, the local community wanted build in this place a memorial to what had been its economic and social hub. And this is when starts the story of "Dream''.

In 2006 Sutton Manor was chosen to be developed and filmed for Channel 4`s "Big Art Project''. Dream was designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, who has completed major commisions across the globe.

The 20 metre high sculpture is made of pre-cast concrete and Spanish dolomite.

Dream takes a form of a girl`s head with her eyes closed in a seemingly dream - like state, resting on a plinth inspired by the small tally that identified each miner. In Jaume's words, the deeper message of this sculpture is that "when we dream, anything is possible...".

The concept of the sculpture was also inspired by the former motto of St Helens and the coliery - ''from the earth comes light''

Dream was built in 31 May 2009 and with close involvment of former miners, support of Channel 4, Art Council England, European Union, and others.

At the Sutton Manor Park you can also find other sculpture covered in words by children from Sutton Manor Primary School, who worked with artists including Bernadette Hughes and Colette Hughes. One of those sculpture`s words says:

Beneath us there`s a labyrinth,

A tangle of forgotten pathways.

We walk alone in dreams

Among the twisted, rusted shapes.

That litter memory`s lanes.

During my stay in Caen, I discovered a statue similar to that of Sutton Manor Park but in black colour. It is the face of a girl named Lou and it is created by the same artist Jaume Plensa, who designed Dream a white head of girl in Sutton Manor.

This statue is not as huge as the one in Sutton Manor Park and stands at the front of L'Abbaye-aux-Hommes, also known as the Men's Abbey. This place is a renowned Romanesque Benedictine monastery located in Caen.

Seeing the analogy of these two sculptures while writing my post and comparing my photos, I decided to look deeper into why there is such a similarity between these sculptures. I must admit to you that I was not very interested in who the author was during my visit to Caen. Until I wanted to write about Manor Park.

An acclaimed creator of public art, Jaume Plensa produces monumental sculptures in steel, glass, marble, polyester resin, concrete, and bronze. The one that I have seen in Caen is a monumental cast iron face of a young girl with closed eyes and a stretched forehead. It is really impressive sculpture in urban green place.

Jaume Plensa sees the work of art as “a link within a community, a group of people”.



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