A risque and much missed iconic statue which sparked outrage when it was first unveiled is set to return to Doncaster town centre.
The ‘Lovers’ statue - which showed a naked couple embracing in a cascading waterfall - was the centrepiece of the Arndale Centre - now the Frenchgate Centre up until the mid 1980s.
Now plans have been put in place to bring the artwork back to Doncaster town centre, within the Waterdale Shopping Centre.
Regeneration specialist St.Modwen, owners of Waterdale, are behind the plans to bring the statue back to Doncaster, almost 30 years since it was last on public display.
The company has submitted a planning application to erect the statue within the centre later this year.
St Modwen inherited the ‘Lovers’ when the centre was purchased in 2013 but the fibre glass statue was in poor condition following a number of years in storage.
The company has since made a considerable investment to restore and maintain the statue, working with local art group, Artfuel, to carry out repair work.
Work to date includes restructuring the hands and feet, rewelding the internal fibre glass structure and recolouring.
Richard Bannister, Yorkshire and North East regionalmManager at St.Modwen, said: “The restoration of the ‘Lovers’ demonstrates our commitment to rejuvenating Waterdale Shopping Centre and investing in Doncaster town centre. There is considerable public affection for this statue so it is only right that it is displayed in the town.
“We hope that the statue will, once again, become the meeting place for the local community.”
Amanda Hughes- Lubeck from Artfuel said: “The statue was in a state of disrepair when we began the restoration work and it has taken a considerable amount of work to bring it back to its former glory. The statue is quite delicate so it is important that it is made sufficiently robust before going back on public display.”
The return of the ‘Lovers’ statue forms part of St. Modwen’s plans to revitalise Waterdale Shopping Centre in order to deliver a more modern and attractive shopping environment for both retailers and customers. Since acquiring the site late last year, St. Modwen has successfully secured new retailers to the Centre and agreed lease renewals with a number of existing tenants. An extensive refurbishment programme has also commenced.
The statue raised eyebrows when it was first unveiled in the Arndale Centre and became a popular meeting point for scores of people before its removal as the shopping complex was transformed into the Frenchgate Centre in the 1980s.
A Facebook group, Get The Lovers Statue Back In The Frenchgate Centre, was set up last year and attracted a host of fans keen to see the saucy artwork return.