By Alex Matthews
A ‘war horse’ has been banned from standing on a 15 giant traffic islands – because the council say it is a health and safety hazard.
Artist Damian O’Conner created the 10-feet high beast to honour the millions of steeds that have faithfully served their human companions and fallen in conflict.
He decided to use a large traffic island near Norwich, Norfolk, to display the sculpture and let people have a look as they whizz past in their cars.
He has spent the past few months moving it from roundabout to roundabout and claims drivers even look forward to finding out where it is each day.
However, council jobsworths have told him the statue, which stands alone in the middle of ‘half football sized fields’, needs to be moved on health and safety grounds.
Norfolk County Council even went so far as to write Damian a letter, informing him he could be liable if his horse was deemed to have caused a collision and that he faced possible “enforcement action.”
Damian, from Taverham, Norfolk, said: “I think it’s utterly ridiculous. I can’t see how health and safety comes into it at all.
‘It doesn’t seem like they have thought about it at all, they’ve just automatically come out with ‘safety’ concerns.
“Roundabouts have artworks on them all the time, up and down the country.
“In Newmarket, fifty miles up the road, they renovated one and war horse sculpture installed for £220,000. Norfolk Council are getting this one for free.
“It’s a large horse sculpture, but these roundabouts are half the size of football fields. You can easily see through it or around it when you are driving.
“The other irony is they sell advertising space on those traffic islands which are intentionally designed to distract the driver. They want you to read those as you are going past.
“Why a horse sat in the middle is any worse I have no idea.
“I’ve taken it to about 15 sites now, and each time I get I have to remove it. It’s ridiculous.”
Damian was inspired to create the sculpture two years ago because of a lifelong interest in horses, and as a tribute to the millions of steeds who have died serving humans.
The artwork, which over 10ft high, 10ft tall and weighs a ton, took him just under a year to complete. He constructed it from steel, wood, and Norfolk reeds.
He decided the roundabout would make the perfect exhibition space after deciding it would be more entertaining out in the open.
The artist said: “Part of me has always wanted a horse, so I decided to make one.
“But I also think it’s nice to remember all the work that horses have helped us achieve, not just in war but in labour, racing and industry too.
“Horses have been vital and worked tirelessly for people in East Anglia for centuries.
“When I had finished it I decided having it out in the open would be best, and so the roundabouts seemed the perfect exhibition space.
“There is plenty of space for people to appreciate it, and it gives them something different to look at as they are driving along.
“I also was not very interested in hearing people’s comments in it. If it’s in a gallery of some kind people will make all sorts of comments. But as they drive past in a car they can keep them to themselves.”
Despite his reluctance to hear feedback, Damian is aware of the largely positive reception the sculpture has had.
He keeps the horse on the move so people are not quite sure where it will pop up next.
Damian said: “I’ll go out at 3am and move it to the middle of a roundabout, somewhere along the NDR, A140 Cromer Road, Holt Road or Fakenham Road. It looks fantastic under the stars.
“Then at the end of the day I’ll go and take it away again.
“I’ve heard kids love it, and I think their parents probably do too. It makes it more interesting if they can look out for it and see where it has moved to.
“It’s supposed to excite people like that, so I’m going to make sure I keep displaying it.”