Sea Music is an internationally important sculpture that has stood on the Quay near Poole Museum since 1991. It was created by Anthony Caro, one of Britain’s greatest sculptors and it is the only site-specific public sculpture by the artist in the UK. The design brings together the cascading waves and the sails of the boats in the harbour and echoes the sound of the sea.
Sea Music was commissioned by Poole Arts Council to create a focal point for the Quay and to bring an artwork to Poole that would be of lasting benefit to the cultural heritage of the town. The sculpture was given by Caro to the people of Poole as a ‘thank you’. He had a home in Dorset and spent a lot of time here. The creation of the 11 metre high artwork was a huge achievement for the local community, as businesses from the area donated their time, skills and materials to help construct it.
In 2013 Poole Museum recognised that Sea Music needed special attention if it was to survive the effects of coastal weather and erosion. The Museum made contact with the artist to discuss a plan for its conservation. In 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Poole Museum a grant to carry out a conservation and 25th anniversary celebration plan for Sea Music. Funding was also received from Arts Council England and the Henry Moore Foundation, as well as sponsorship from local supporters such as Troika Developments and JPMorgan.
In February 2017 the conservation of Sea Music began. In accordance with Caro’s wishes, the supporting structure of the viewing platforms was painted silver to distinguish it from the sculpture. Interpretation panels and bird deterrents were added, and new lighting will be installed this autumn to help Sea Music shine through the winter months.
To celebrate and recognise the importance of Sea Music, Poole Museum has been working with artists, musicians, local schools and communities to help them learn about the artwork and re-tell its remarkable story.
Jim Aitchison wrote a new celebratory composition, Sea of Music. Its world premiere, performed by members of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, takes place on 13 May, with the support of Suzanne Deal Booth and David and Audrey Mirvish. From 13 May to 29 July Lighthouse Poole is staging an exhibition of the painter Sheila Girling, Caro’s wife, and there will be an exhibition of artists’ responses to Sea Music at the Museum from 21 October to 5 November.
To celebrate the conservation of Sea Music a new book has been published and is available in the Museum shop, alongside a limited edition print signed by the artist David Ward. There will also be a programme of free creative events and lectures.