Yoxman statue next to A12 near Aldeburgh, described as East Anglia's answer to Angel of the North, brings national spotlight to Suffolk
A giant statue of a man which is being hailed as East Anglia’s answer to the Angel of the North has brought national attention to a Suffolk village.
The 26ft high statue called the Yoxman has made national headlines this week and was even mentioned by BBC Radio One breakfast host Greg James on his show this morning.
It came after stories told of locals' concerns that the statue had become a road safety hazard because so many people stare at it as they drive past.
The artwork, which is one the largest bronze sculptures in the UK, was erected in November on land next to the A12 in Yoxford near Aldeburgh.
Scores of people are stopping every day in a lay-by opposite the sculpture so they can take pictures.
One villager said: "It is a marvellous sculpture and is very impressive – but it could end up causing an accident as it is distracting motorists.
"The A12 is a very busy road and people can’t help looking at a depiction of a naked man in all his glory as they are driving past."
A Facebook user said: "Seems a bit daft to put it by the A12, surely it’s a traffic hazard. Drivers looking at that and not the traffic, or where they’re going…"
The statue is in the grounds of Cockfield Hall which is set to form part of the Wilderness Reserve luxury holiday retreat, created by property billionaire Jon Hunt.
It was created by sculptor Laurence Edwards who lives in the village and drew inspiration for it from the bogs and woodland of the east Suffolk coast.
Mr Edwards said he wanted its surface to ‘reflect the gnarly bark of ancient oaks growing in the parkland around Yoxford’ with its arms likened to ‘oaken branches’.
He likened it to ‘a wounded giant perhaps, contemplating the mystery of the lake in front of him, awed by landscape aware of his fragility, an appropriate message for our time’.
A planning application for the sculpture overlooking a new lake with reed beds in front of the hall described it as ‘a large scale showpiece work for east Suffolk'.
It stated that it was intended to be ‘a major landmark for the region – an attraction for tourists and locals seeking cultural and rural recreation and relaxation’.
The application which was approved by East Suffolk Council said that the sculpture was meant to be ‘tantalising, serving as a beacon for what is possible in the region’.
Councillors welcomed it as being ‘highly appropriate’ and adding ‘a sense of drama’ to the parkland of Grade One listed Cockfield Hall which dates back to the 16th century.
Yoxford Parish Council chairman Russell Pearce said: "It has settled into the landscape quite well. I think it is fantastic, so I am biased.
"Some people are negative and say they don’t like it and don’t see the point of it. But the number of people who stop in the lay-by to look at it is incredible.
"I like the fact that you can see it as you drive past, and if you are in the High Street you can catch a glimpse of it in the gaps between houses.
"People have likened it to being Suffolk’s answer to the Angel of the North. It is certainly encouraging more visitors to the village who have just come to see it."
While some have described it as ‘a grotesque monstrosity’ and ‘a blot on the landscape’, the statue had been largely welcomed by locals and social media users.
Many have described it as ‘brilliant’ and ‘amazing’, while one East Anglian admirer stated on Facebook: "Our very own Angel of the East."
Mr Hunt who co-founded London estate agents Foxtons was said to be worth £1.345 billion and the 126th richest person in the UK according to last year’s Sunday Tim Rich List.
His Wilderness Reserve business rents out a range of luxury country houses and cottages for staycations on his private 8,000 acre estate close to the Suffolk coast.
Visitors in the last year have included comedian Jack Whitehall and the cast of up-market show Made in Chelsea.
Wilderness Reserve has been approached for comment.