Caro sculpture is shipshape again

Sea Music (1991) on Dorset's Poole Quay refreshed after 25 years' exposure to salty sea air and detritus from barges being loaded


The largest site-specific public work by the late British artist Anthony Caro in the UK—at a place where the sculptor and his wife, the artist Shelia Girling, used to sit and eat fish and chips—looks good as new after its restoration. Sea Music (1991) on Poole Quay in Dorset, England, needed conservation after 25 years of exposure to the salty sea air and detritus from barges being loaded.

Commissioned by the Poole Arts Council, Sea Music—ones of Caro’s “sculpitecture” pieces—was inspired by a 19th-century photograph of the ships sailing into the harbour. “It was Caro’s gift to the city of Poole,” says the project’s manager Melinda McCheyne. “It was a way to promote arts in the town and show what a good piece of public art could add to it.”

Planning for the restoration, conductedby the firm Hall Conservation, beganbefore Caro died in 2013, with the artistrequesting that the installation’s railing andthree platforms be repainted silver so as todistinguish them from the blue sculpture.Caro’s studio supplied original paintsamples and the artist’s son, Paul, advisedon the project. Among the activities tocelebrate the restoration are a lectureseries, an exhibition of 14 sculptures fromCaro’s Concerto series at the Poole Museumand a new publication on Sea Music.