Mother & Child
Prior’s Court School in Thatcham is a new school for autistic children and William Pye was invited by its founder, Dame Stephanie Shirley, to make a water sculpture for a courtyard area of the garden. The sculpture had to be accessible and should reflect the caring nature of the institution. It also had to be of a scale suitable for small children to enjoy it in safety.
The form of a larger figure protecting a smaller, more vulnerable one as expressed by Henry Moore in the numerous Mother and Child sculptures he made throughout most of his career has also been used by other artists.
In this case Pye wanted to reflect through an abstract sculpture the atmosphere of selfless caring that he felt was present throughout the school.
Pye has written of this piece, ‘Two mirror-polished stainless steel shapes rise from the ground through an anti-slip bronze grating which allows access right up to the sculpture. Water flows down the vertical surfaces to fall through a narrow gap in the grating around the sculpture into the sump below. The bronze grating at ground level both frames the sculpture and allows any stray drips or splashing caused by touching the stainless steel surface to return to the sump.’
Ruth Pavey in Crafts Magazine, January / February 2001 wrote, ‘Although entirely abstract, there is no mistaking the protective relationship between the larger of the two stainless steel pieces and its "child"... The bright, slightly patinated surfaces act as mirrors. On a sunny day watery reflections dance on the surrounding ground. The whole thing is so alluring and satisfying that it is easy to believe that children in moments of acute distress are sometimes restored by being near it.’