Work is planned to protect and conserve the 10 decorative ceramic sculptures on the Grade II-listed former Queensgate Market building.

Cliveden Conservation has been sub-contracted by BAM – the principal contractor for Kirklees Council’s Our Cultural Heart project in Huddersfield – to conserve the iconic Fritz Steller artworks.

A condition survey of the decorative panels – entitled: ‘Articulation in Movement’ and created by German sculptor Fritz Steller – has been undertaken by Cliveden Conservation.

A programme of conservation repair works will be carried out in situ in 2025. Each panel will be carefully cleaned, consolidated and repointed. Structural and reconstruction repairs will also be carried out to restore some of the missing elements of the panels.

During spring 2024, Cliveden Conservation will use specialist techniques to take down Steller’s black metal relief sculpture called ‘Commerce’ which features semi-abstract figures representing agriculture, trade and products, from inside the building.

The sculpture will be carefully divided into individual pieces and sensitively cleaned before being packed away.

To enable building works to commence Cliveden Conservation will also be removing the sandstone coat of arms and terrazzo panels from the market hall over the next few months.

Custom designed and built storage solutions are being used to transport these objects and the metal sculpture into safe storage.

Fritz Stellar’s ‘Commerce’ artwork on the wall inside the former Queensgate Market

David Bloxam, head of architectural projects at Cliveden Conservation, said: “It is an honour to be entrusted with Queensgate Market’s most precious artefacts and to be part of the Our Cultural Heart project team.

“This is a delicate operation which requires careful planning and immense skill. We look forward to working in collaboration with BAM and Kirklees Council as a specialist contractor in heritage conservation and seeing this new cultural hub evolve.”

David Shepherd, Kirklees Council’s strategic director for growth and regeneration, added: “Our Cultural Heart may be an exciting regeneration project for the future, but it also builds on the strong heritage and identity of everything that has gone before.

“By smartly respecting and enhancing the existing heritage buildings and character across the site, the new scheme will provide a tangible sense of place that retains the emotional connection felt between local residents and their town centre.

“The Fritz Steller panels are a fundamental part of this ambition, so it’s great to now have Cliveden Conservation on board to work alongside the main contractor.

“They are experts in their field and will help us to safely refurbish the artwork so it can remain a celebrated feature within Kirklees for decades to come.”

The building is due to be converted into a food hall with a glass-fronted extension to create a new library. The library will open out into a new public square for events.

That’s phase one of Our Cultural Heart and the council has promised “spades in the ground” in summer 2024.

Main image by: Gordon Parks

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