Sculpture revisits the Sand House heritage

Elephant in the Room exhibition at The Point. Sand sculptor Jamie Wardley (left) and Richard Bell with the carving. Picture: Malcolm Billingham D0466MB
Elephant in the Room exhibition at The Point. Sand sculptor Jamie Wardley (left) and Richard Bell with the carving. Picture: Malcolm Billingham D0466MB

ONE of the stranger chapters of Doncaster’s heritage is being celebrated with a ground-breaking exhibition at The Point.

The Sand House celebrates the weird and wonderful work of Victorian businessman Henry Senior, who created a series of stone sculptures both inside his Doncaster home and in an extensive series of tunnels underneath it.

In recognition of this bizarre - and often forgotten - aspect of the town’s history, Mr Senior’s great, great grandson Richard Bell has brought an exhibition to the South Parade art centre to keep the memory alive.

Richard said: “The Sand House was unique – an example of Victorian eccentricity and ingenuity. Thanks to support from Heritage Lottery Fund through Arts Council England, I am delighted that people will get the chance to see the sculptures and find out more about this lost marvel.”

The Sand House put Doncaster on the map from 1850 until World War II but fears of subsidence on the ground above meant it was filled in and made safe in 1984. Unfortunately, none of the original sculptures were removed - though there are hopes that it might one day be possible to revisit the tunnels.

The centrepiece will be a 40-tonne sand sculpture of an elephant and mahout, which has been created from photographs of the original Sand House.

Helen Jones, arts development manager at Doncaster Community Arts (DARTS), said: “We’ve never had an elephant in the gallery before – but with a double height roof space there is plenty of room for him and his mahout.

“Everyone at The Point is looking forward to hosting this exhibition, which celebrates Doncaster’s heritage and welcomes lots of new visitors to see Jamie’s creation.”

Yorkshire-based artist Jamie Wardley and his team spent last week creating the sculpture on site and a time-lapse film will be shown alongside the exhibition with footage of how the sculpture was created. The gallery will also feature other smaller sculptures inspired by the Sand House.

The exhibition is now fully open to the public. In the coming weeks, there will be a variety of special workshops and demonstrations to explore memories and understandings of the Sand House.

Family workshops are taking place on May 12, to teach sand drawing and carving skills at the Arts Park on Chequer Road. Tickets are available from the Tourist Information Centre on the High Street.

For more information, visit www.thepoint.org.uk/the-point