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Harlow, Sculpture Town

In 2010 Harlow was classified as the world's first 'sculpture town'. Harlow new town was created in Essex after the Second World War as a home for people moved from poor quality and bombed-out housing in London. Town planner Sir Frederick Gibberd and landscape architect Sylvia Crowe worked together to create a modern town with the latest architecture, and sculpture was part of the town from the start. There are now over 80 sculptures around the town, including works by major international sculptors such as Elisabeth Frink, Barbara Hepworth and Auguste Rodin. They are looked after by Harlow Art Trust.

Sculpture in Harlow

Activity: design a sculpture for a public space near you

In this practical activity, students will design a sculpture that represents an optimistic future for their locality, and go out and about to use photography to choose a location for it.


Each student needs: a sketchbook or paper, a pen or pencil, a black permanent marker, a sheet of acetate, a camera, phone or tablet.

Initial ideas

Ask students to discuss or think about these questions:

  • If a family group symbolises the future of your local area, what should that family look like?
  • What is most important for you and the people in your local area right now? Is it family, or something else?
  • If a family group is no longer a relevant symbol of an optimistic future, what do you think is?
  • What sort of sculpture do you want to see in public spaces near your home or school?

Ask students to note down bullet-pointed themes and ideas relating to their new sculptures and sketch out quick, initial ideas of what their sculptures might look like in their sketchbooks.

Other family groups

Extension activities

Students can develop their ideas further by making maquettes, using these small models to refine their ideas in three dimensions, and to consider material and texture for the final sculpture.

Ask students to put on a group show of their designs, ideas and maquettes including a collaborative map depicting the location of the classes' public artworks located throughout their local area.

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