Metal sculpture which gives children third-degree burns on hot days will be moved to a new site

Posted by Admin Portishead on May 3, 2017

Artwork will be moved on health and safety grounds - to the centre of a roundabout.

BY HEATHER PICKSTOCK

Original article  published in the Bristol Post on

  • 07:00, 3 MAY 2017
  • UPDATED10:52, 3 MAY 2017

A metal sculpture on a town's art trail which gave children serious burns after they touched it in hot weather is to be removed.

The 10ft Viaggio sculpture was installed at Pill Park, Portishead, as part of a public arts trail during the development around the marina.

But it had to be fenced off after a number of children suffered serious burns when they touched it in hot weather.

One young girl is understood to have needed hospital treatment after suffering a third-degree burn.

Youngster Vittorio Mochi, who was aged just under two at the time, also needed hospital treatment after scorching his hands on the metal structure, made hot by the sun in June 2014.

The Viaggio sculpture before it was fenced off

The steel sculpture, which was made with the intention of people playing and interacting with it, had become so hot in the sun that Vittorio’s hands were blistered within seconds.

He later needed to be given morphine at Bristol Children’s Hospital while the skin was surgically removed.

Following the incidents, signs warning of the surface becoming hot during long periods of sunny weather were attached to the sculpture, which had been used by children as a climbing frame.

Fencing was also erected around it.

The structure forms part of the Port Marine Public Art Programme, a 10 year project which started in 1999.

More than 20 international visual artists came together with local community groups to create public artworks which related to Portishead’s rich history and heritage.

The marina is a popular spot with children and the sculpture lies just a few hundred metres away from Portishead Primary School, with many youngsters walking past it on the way home from class.

In the past, residents had called for the sculpture, which looks like a cave, to be removed because it had become a magnet for anti social behaviour and was regularly being vandalised and daubed with obscene graffiti.

Local teenagers have also used the sculpture as a den, meeting there to drink and cause chaos until the early hours and in the past have set the safety matting alight.

Now a decision has been made to remove the sculpture and put it into storage until a more suitable location can be found.

It is understood that it may go on one of the new roundabouts created as part of changes to the road system in the town to accommodate the long awaited Portishead railway link, although this has not been confirmed.

North Somerset Council spokeswoman Zoe Briffitt said: “The statue is going to be removed in the next month and stored until we can find a suitable isolated, but visible, location.”

Councillors have welcomed the news that the sculpture is to be moved to a more suitable location.

Portishead councillor Reyna Knight said: “I am glad the discussions about what to do with the sculpture have been followed through and we have now found a solution.

“The sculpture needs to be moved due to the health and safety risk it poses, especially to children.”