Big Boots

How he came to be called Big Boots I have no idea. He certainly had no boots, or indeed any other garments: being a larger than life sculpture of a seated nude male. He sat facing the back of the Beckenham library, on a piece of waste ground.

Originally there was a temporary wooden structure, which sheltered him from the elements and public gaze, but this had fallen to bits.

Big boots remained undisturbed and unmarked until the Mayor came on an official inspection of the Library and on looking out of the rear window was shocked and horrified. Civic sensibilities were greatly offended and representation was made to Mr Cole; the then Principal of the Art School. He disclaimed any responsibility. The sculpture belonged to the sculptor: a lady long returned to her native South Africa.

There followed an incident of official vandalism. Workman were dispatched with chisels to emasculate the offending work of art, a scrappy piece of cloth was thrown over its head and the space where its genitals had been, roughly cemented over. This caused much hilarity among the students.

I vaguely remember that the occasion made the National Press, with the headline ‘Art School girls fight to save nude statue’. What happened to Big Boots eventually I don’t know. I presume he was demolished. His place of residence is now the Beckenham Library car park – shame, because he really was rather fine.

Molly Russell-Smith
December 2006