Fri, 05 Oct 2018
A MYSTERY hooded figure drawing attention to the issue of homelessness in Newbury has appeared in the town centre.
The bronze-sprayed effigy – dubbed Jack, of Newbury – has been placed there by someone calling themselves Berksy, seemingly in a nod to the world-renowned street artist Banksy.
The figure has been placed close to where a proposed £39,000 statue of one of Newbury’s most famous sons, Jack O’Newbury, is due to be erected.
The 2.35m-tall bronze sculpture of John Winchcombe II, the renowned clothier credited with creating the first factory in England, is planned to be sited outside his former home at 25 Northbrook Street.
A campaign to raise £38,000 to fund it was launched last month.
But Berksy’s feature calls on people to support local homeless charities, stating: “The statues you erect should honour the least among you.”
The artist’s statement attached to the hooded figure says: “Jack O’Newbury sent local men to fight and die in foreign wars to maintain his social status.
“Jack, of Newbury, fought for his country. His social status has been sinking ever since.
“Jack O’Newbury made children work under looms so he’d get richer and closer to the King.
“Jack, of Newbury, lost touch with his kids as austerity made him poorer and closer to death.
“Jack O’Newbury condemned three men to be burnt at the stake for their religious beliefs.
“Jack, of Newbury, was fined for begging and imprisoned when he could not pay the fine.
“Jack O’Newbury owned several homes.
“Jack, of Newbury, has no home.”
The statement says that visitors and residents to Newbury can help homeless people in the town by donating “time, money or much-needed items to voluntary organisations that do vital work”.
These include Loose Ends, Newbury Soup Kitchen and West Berkshire Homeless.
The statement also includes part of a sermon from St Basil of Caesarea, who was known for his care of the poor.
“The bread you hold back belongs to the hungry.
“The clothes you lock away belong to the naked.
“The money which you are hiding belongs to the needy.”
The Jack of Newbury Sculpture Fund has raised £4,830 of the £39,721 needed for the project.
The sculpture, by Luke Webb, will depict Jack holding a yard of cloth on his right arm while raising his left hand as if to capture the moment he conceived the idea to mechanise the process of cloth production.