Historic England has recently listed a major sculpture by Hans Schwarz - The ‘Market Woman’ at Wallsend in North Tyneside. It was listed because of its aesthetic quality, its material (bronze), its historic interest, and its contribution to the public realm. You can read the full listing on Historic England’s website www.historicengland.org.uk/listing the list entry is no 1437357. It is also mentioned in the ‘Culture24’ website www.culture24.org.uk
It is among five sculptures in August 2016, others being by Anthony Gormley, Andy Frost, Geoffrey Clarke and David Hamilton.
In 1964 Schwarz gave up commercial work and moved to a cottage in the village of Stogursey in Somerset. He intended to pursue painting and sculpture without the pressure of commercial work. He had a number of commissions for sculptures in a variety of media including fibreglass, steel, wood and bronze. The Birmingham based architects J Seymour Harris were designing shopping centres in various parts of the country and commissioned sculptures as part of their designs. In 1965 Schwarz was asked to design a sculpture for the Wallsend “Forum” shopping centre. He chose a market woman with a basket on her head full of poultry to sell at the market. He wrote that he wanted the woman, “to appear as a tough, hardworking peasant and not a graceful girl”. It was not well received by the local population. It was originally on a low brick base but was moved to its present position in 1993 and is now surrounded by a low hedge. As a large bronze, it is unique in Schwarz’s oeuvre.
Schwarz completed another commission from J Seymour Harris – 12 relief panels at the Martineau Square in Birmingham. Unfortunately these are no longer there.
The sculpture was produced at a time when Schwarz was still exploring a variety of media – indeed he was not sure at the time whether painting or sculpture would be his main direction. Painting won out, and he completed no more sculptures after 1970. He spent the rest of his life painting every day. We do not know who the model was, but Schwarz’s wife Lena figures in a huge number of his paintings.