Barnsley artist's new work features 200 seagulls perching on iconic French building

South Yorkshire artist and designer Patrick Murphy has unveiled a new public art installation in Le Havre, France, featuring 200 life-size seagull sculptures perched on the City Hall building.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 8:12 pm

Patrick, whose studio is in Eastgate, Barnsley, created the permanent sculpture, called Sense of Belonging, for a summer art festival called Un Ete au Havre in the Normandy port.

The seagulls appear in five positions, arranged individually and in groups. Each one is made from resin and fixed to the building via stainless steel legs.

The work is located on the symbolic City Hall building designed by famous architect Auguste Perret in the 1950s. Le Havre was rebuilt by Auguste Perret after it was bombed in World War Two and was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2005 because of its fine architecture.

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A bird's-eye view of two of artist Patrick Harding's seagulls looking over the French port of Le Havre

A spokesperson for the festival said: “The gulls are designed to occupy the City Hall, using the building as their new home. Seagulls are already a very familiar sight in the streets of Le Havre and this new installation references the birds’ familiar visibility but increases their number to become either a disturbing or pleasing sight, depending on whether you like seagulls.

“Some see them as a looming threat, which may remind us of the horror film The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock. Others see them as a crucially characteristic element of any coastal town.”

Patrick said: “I feel very fortunate in having had the opportunity to work on this public art installation during a very challenging year for all of us. The City Hall building in Le Havre provides a perfect location for this artwork and the Un Ete au Havre team have been fantastic in making it happen. The city has so much art and design history, including being the setting and inspiration for Claude Monet’s famous 1872 painting Impression, Sunrise which gave rise to the artistic term Impressionism.

Part of Patrick Murphy's seagull installation, Sense of Belonging, on the City Hall building at Le Havre in Normandy

"The work is part of a continued evolution on a theme of home and shared space - something that all of us have had to consider during the pandemic.”

Patrick’s other international installations have included Watou in Belgium, Dubai, Canada, Greece and closer to home in London and Liverpool. His work was installed on the facade of the Walker Gallery for the 2012 Liverpool Biennial.