Artist’s widow giving away ‘legacy’ of sculptures


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Mr Hillier’s widow Joan is keen for the pieces to go to good homes – free of charge

The widow of an artist is giving away the last of his sculptures because it is “what he would have wanted”.

Tony Hillier, who died in 2014, only took up the art in retirement after a long career as a University of Cambridge fellow and teacher.

He exhibited dozens of his finished pieces on the front lawn of his home in Histon, near Cambridge – and several are still there.

“I have to put them where he would like them to be,” Joan Hillier said.

Mr Hillier “had another life” as a prolific cartoonist and artist, she said, moving on to metalwork when he took early retirement.

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The sculptures are dotted around Joan Hillier’s garden

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Mr Hillier’s first metal work was a reclining tandem. “We rode it for a thousand miles ’til Joan threatened to leave me,” he said of it

He would get steel sheets from a friend, Ed Jackson, who lived across the road, then don a welding mask and create pieces in his own shed.

The artist welcomed visitors to the garden and his workshop, saying on his website: “There are usually sparks to be seen as well, but don’t let this put you off.”

Mrs Hillier said her husband never sold his sculptures, preferring to offer them to school and community groups for free, “especially those institutions concerned with young people or education”.

An appeal was placed on a community forum for the sculptures to go to good homes.

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Mr Hillier created several sculptures after he retired

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The artist created the pieces in the garage of his home in Histon

“The reason I want to give them away is because that is what Tony would have wanted to do,” Mrs Hillier said.

“I’m not getting any younger and the thought of what might happen to the stuff in the garden if I pop my clogs – I can’t do that.

“Tony always gave them away.”

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Mr Hillier demonstrated remarkable attention to detail – including argyle socks on a boy’s feet

Nikki Kerss, a teacher at Hardwick and Cambourne Primary School, said she wasted no time acquiring three sculptures for the school – and the village of Hardwick.

“I absolutely love them,” she said.

“The fact that Mr Hillier made them for the love of it, and wouldn’t accept money for them, makes them rather special.

“There’s something magical about them and we are definitely very lucky to have them. They will last forever.”

The school is now appealing for help in unearthing the sculptures from their garden moorings and securing them in their new locations.

BBC News

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