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Forging a path to history

Galvanized cob horse for heritage recognition in the South Downs

The Changing Chalk project is a multi-partner, multi-project initiative led by the National Trust. The project aims to restore lost habitats, bring histories to life, and provide new experiences in the outdoors.

As part of this project, Changing Chalk commissioned Jake Bowers, artist and blacksmith at Thirsty Bear Forge, to fabricate a life-size cob horse to recognise and celebrate the cultural heritage of “Gypsy, Roma and Traveller” communities in the South Downs. Jake relied on Joseph Ash Medway to galvanize the horse to the best quality, preserving it for many years to come.

The creation of Prissy

Jake took measurements for the sculpture from a real-life model: Winnie the cob, who was the much-loved horse owned by his sister Priscilla. The sculpture itself was decidedly named after Priscilla, too.

Jake also took Priscilla, Queen of the South (as the sculpture had become known) on a nationwide tour so that members of the community and public sector workers could forge part of her mane, feet and tail. Jake noted: “Our presence at Appleby Fair, for example, allowed scores of Gypsies and Traveller community members to create part of the sculpture.”

The community input into the sculpture makes the project even more powerful.

Hot dip galvanizing for an extended lifespan

As Prissy – the shortened name given to the sculpture – was set to live outside in the South Downs, a durable, long-lasting and corrosion-resistant finish was required to ensure it remained protected against the elements for many years to come. Hot dip galvanizing served as the ideal solution, thanks to the extended lifespan it provides for steel. Galvanizing also helps to keep steel looking like new – ideal for preserving the beauty of this symbolic sculpture.

Joseph Ash Medway collected, hot dip galvanized, and returned Prissy back to Jake so that the National Trust could install the sculpture as part of their project.

The outcome

Prissy now resides in the South Downs, serving as a long-lasting reminder of the rich cultural heritage of the communities who help shape these landscapes.

When asked why he chose to galvanize the horse with Joseph Ash Galvanizing, Jake commented:

“The sculpture is so intricate only galvanizing would have reached every part that needed preserving.

“I also love the way Joseph Ash treats works of art with the care and attention to detail that a work of art requires.”

Prissy is the first public sculpture to be unveiled as part of Project Atchin Tan, a community initiative seeking to include the voices of travelling communities on issues of sustainability and global warming. At least two other horse sculptures are planned, largely made from recycled steel and the skills of the community members.

You can learn more about the Changing Chalk partnership on the National Trust website. To discuss the project with the fabricator, contact Jake Bowers at Thirsty Bear Forge.

If you have a galvanizing requirement, get a quote or book a collection with one of our nine UK sites today.

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