A new charity has been set up to fund the initiative, the Golden Guernsey Ormer LBG, and its founder and the man behind the idea – Chris Humber – said the aim was to continue raising funds for other local causes even after the statue had been fully funded.
Mr Humber came up with the idea of an ormer statue (model pictured right) after the States invited expressions of interest for five sites under its Seafront Enhancement Area project in 2018. Planning permission for the statue was granted in September this year for the structure on the Round Top Store.
‘The ormer is a rather beautiful local natural phenomenon,’ he said. ‘It’s basically the essence of Guernsey and I think people will identify with that.’
South African sculptor Nic Bladen has been chosen to create the work.
Mr Humber said Mr Bladen is internationally renowned for making bronze sculptures of botanical subjects and he is excited to be involved. ‘His work is appropriate for this. He has a fantastic eye for detail.'
Mr Humber said he wanted the ormer to have 'international appeal', like the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen and the Mannekin Pis in Brussels as statues that have come to be associated with their respective locations.
‘There are people who are art travellers and I’m hoping they will come just to see the Golden Guernsey Ormer.’
He has not yet finalised costs so is unable to say how much will need to be raised. ‘Funding will come from sponsorship, together with a number of initiatives aimed at local and national participation,’ he said.
Once papers have been signed, granting the right to occupy the site for five years, more details of the fundraising plans will be made public.
As well as attracting attention outside of Guernsey, he hoped islanders would get on board with the project and come to regard the giant ormer as a key part of the east coast, in much the same way as the mast at the Weighbridge, which was supposed to be temporary but which was granted permission to remain long after the event for which it was erected came to an end.
‘I want this to be a sculpture for the people,’ said Mr Humber.
The plan is for the statue to be constructed next year and the unveiling to take place to coincide with the first ormering tide of 2023.