'An offence to God': Hundreds sign petition to remove world's tallest ceramic statue costing £80,000

·4-min read
The 'Earth Goddess' statue has sparked a backlash in St Austell, Cornwall. (SWNS)
The 'Earth Goddess' statue has sparked a backlash in St Austell, Cornwall. (SWNS)

A petition has been launched to have the world's tallest ceramic statue removed from the middle of a popular Cornish town.

The 11.5m (37ft) ceramic statue dubbed 'Earth Goddess' was unveiled in St Austell, Cornwall and was hoped to put the town 'on the map' after three years of construction.

But hundreds of people have demanded that the statue, which was created by artist Sandy Brown to celebrate the heritage of China clay and cost £80,000, be taken down.

So far 417 people have signed calling to remove the artwork "with immediate effect", with one person referring to it as "an offence to God".

The structure was created by artist Sandy Brown for St Austell to celebrate its heritage of China clay. (SWNS)
The structure was created by artist Sandy Brown for St Austell to celebrate its heritage of China clay. (SWNS)

The online petition was started by Scott Moran who said it has also been shared with Cornwall Council – although the council was not involved with the project.

One person compared the giant construction, which is taller than two double decker buses, to a kebab.

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Another said: "A commissioned artwork shouldn’t have any religious connotations which are now being imposed upon the town of St Austell.

"This is an offence not only to members of the public but also to God. Just imagine the amount of good that could have come from that £80,000 could have fed and homed homeless people."

The statue, which cost £80,000, has been slammed by locals. (SWNS)
The statue, which cost £80,000, has been slammed by locals. (SWNS)

One person said: "Our town is named after a saint of the Christian faith, not a so-called earth goddess.

"What a waste of money anyway at these times of personal financial difficulty for so many. In a way, I am glad it doesn’t claim to represent the Saint as it would be a total misrepresentation of all the monks stood for."

While some admired the design, many locals slated the statue online, with one woman posting: "Probably the most laughable thing in Cornwall. What a total joke.

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"Did the residents actually pay for this? Kinda says it all really about the decision makers."

Described online as resembling a 'giant Native American totem', the statue is the crowning piece of the Austell Project’s Whitegold Ceramic Art Trail, which aims to "work with creative people, to make innovative and activated public spaces that use art and design to celebrate the culture of clay country, adding to a sense of place".

The statue is inspired by a totem pole. (SWNS)
The statue is inspired by 'giant American totem'. (SWNS)

The statue was designed by Ms Brown to "visually connect with St Austell’s rich China clay heritage".

But one resident said: "I do not believe this ‘statue’ represents the town or its heritage.

"The China clay industry could have been better represented and I for one do not want to be confronted by what is supposed to be an ‘earth goddess’ every time I walk through Aylmer Square.

"I hope this petition is successful and the statue is taken down swiftly."

One suggestion was that it would be better to have something that paid tribute to D-Day veteran Harry Billinge, who lived in the town and died in April, saying: "St Austell doesn’t need a badly bodged-up pagan idol watching over the town’s inhabitants.

"The town would be better off with a statue honouring a great man of God like Harry Billinge. A humble man who gave so much to St Austell town and his country."

One local compared the statue to a kebab. (SWNS)
One local compared the statue to a kebab. (SWNS)

St Austell and Newquay MP Steve Double said: "I appreciate that there may be some people who like this statue, however clearly there are many who don’t.

"Personally, if I were involved in choosing something that reflects St Austell’s identity, heritage and history, I think it is fair to say I would not have chosen this design.''

Sandy Brown explained: "I really wanted this sculpture to make an impact and for it to visually connect with St Austell’s rich China clay heritage.

"The Earth Goddess is made of the product, clay, which is so intrinsic to this place.

"It’s my hope that she celebrates the town’s unique history and represents our collective and eternal roots with the environment, nature and mother earth."