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  • Writer's picturePeter Berthoud

Endangered Species Under Threat in Victoria

Land Securities are planning to destroy Barry Baldwin’s endangered species sculptures at Allington House near Victoria in central London.

The much-loved group of sculptures including an elephant, tiger, orang-utan, shark and flock of birds will be smashed up and unceremoniously dumped in a skip when Allington House is demolished.

An urgent campaign to save these unique works of art has been launched, demolition is imminent.

You can sign the petition to save the sculptures here. The campaign also has a Facebook page, please like it to show your support and to keep up-to-date on developments.

The Endangered Species Triptych by Barry Baldwin is a very imposing piece of work and a distinctive local landmark. It extends over a metre from the building and weighs over 12 tons. The building, Allington House, originally built for Saga, is due for demolition as part of Land Securities Victoria Circle development.

Both the artist and I contacted Land Securities back in July to find out what plans there were to save the sculptures, there weren’t any.

Barry is now based in California so I went along, on his behalf, to a meeting with Land Securities to discuss whether the sculptures could be saved. I was told that a specialist contractor was being appointed with a view to salvaging the works. Barry himself provided detailed information about how the work could be disassembled and even offered to fly back to London to help with the process.

In late August Land Securities said that the contractors (PAYE) still hadn’t finished their report. Then neither Barry nor I heard a thing until yesterday.

On October 18th Justin Black, Development Director of Land Securities London Portfolio emailed Barry saying:

PAYE advise that the Tryptych could possibly be salvaged, however it would have significant cost and programme implications that we are unable to justify. Consequently we are not in a position to proceed with the attempted salvage of the Tryptych.

The contractor PAYE did not take Barry up on his offer of assistance. Land Securities haven’t revealed the extent of the “financial and programme implications”. I find it very difficult to believe that an organisation with the immense resources of Land Securities couldn’t afford the salvage, given that this is possible and that process would be all the easier if the sculptor was fully involved.

In the early summer I offered to help publicise the risk to the sculptures, not that a huge organisation like Land Securities really needs any help from a small fish like me. But I wanted to help raise awareness and see if another institution might be willing to house or even pay for the sculptures to be rehoused. I thought perhaps that they would look magnificent and be suitably housed at The Natural History Museum, London Zoo or The Horniman.

To my knowledge Land Securities have made no efforts at all to establish whether a new owner can be found. Surely there must be many institutions and even individuals who would be thrilled to have them.

Barry Baldwin is still willing to help save these sculptures and they are still in place but the scaffolding is going up on Allington House and demolition is imminent.

Please support the campaign to save them and spread the word via social media. Perhaps there is still time left to persuade Land Securities not to engage in their planned act of corporate vandalism.

You can read more about Barry’s work in this BBC feature. A lot more information about his work can also be found at his site and his Facebook page.

There is a gallery of images of the Endangered Species Triptych on the Campaign Facebook page.


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