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For more than 40 years, the Hubert Dalwood sculpture has served as an architectural landmark for Leicester City Centre, but few are aware of its history and link to the Haymarket Shopping Centre.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Leicester came under increasing competition from out-of-town shopping locations, which prompted a renewal of the built fabric of the city centre.
Ambitious plans had been drawn up for the wholesale redevelopment of a large area around the Clock Tower in the 1960s. The Haymarket Centre was on a smaller scale than these plans, but when it opened in 1973 it provided something new to Leicester; a covered shopping area, car park, restaurants, roof garden and the Haymarket Theatre within a single large building complex.
Public art in Leicester had been fairly traditional up until the 1970s. The surround of the Four Winds Clock, high above Charles Street on Halford House, was finely crafted in Portland stone between 1955-59 by Albert Pountney, former head of fine art at Leicester Polytechnic. It is not surprising then, that the installation of Hubert Dalwood’s sculpture in 1974 produced a variety of reactions from the Leicester media and public.
The tree-like, stainless steel sculpture was designed to complement the architectural lines of the Haymarket Centre and is situated beside the stairs leading up to the Haymarket Theatre, which was once complemented by a living tree.