The Dart and the Damning of the Sylvan Stream
In the centre of Birmingham, England’s ‘Second City’, stands a piece of public sculpture by Dhruva Mistry entitled ‘The River’. Erected in 1993 as part of the pedestrianisation of Victoria Square, it comprises a monumental female figure (the ‘life force’) who reclines on a series of mountain peaks and holds in her hand a bowl out of which flows a fountain of water which descends by gravity down a series of steps to another pool, in which kneel two youthful and healthy figures, emblems of a young and vigorous city. Carved on the rim of the upper pool is a line from T. S. Eliot’s ‘Burnt Norton’, ‘And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight …’.1 Mistry’s monument celebrates the city’s nerve and vision in capturing, a century earlier, a plentiful supply of fresh water from the first of a series of dams erected by the city’s founding fathers 73 miles away in the highlands of the Elan Valley in Radnorshire, central Wales. It assumes a natural and organic connection between the city and those distant hills, its ‘hinterland’, that improved the health of Birmingham’s people, increased the prosperity of its urban economy and underpinned its urban growth and its political status.
KeywordsPolitical Culture Water Scheme Plentiful Supply City Corporation Central Walis
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