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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Sculptor surveys statue damage
Picture taken by Caroline Ellis from Birmingham Property Services
The statue was erected in 1991

The creator of a 200,000 statue in Birmingham which was destroyed by fire said he was "staggered" by the amount of damage caused.

The fibre glass "Forward" statue in the city's Centenary Square was set alight on 17 April.

A 16-year-old from the Bartley Green area of the city has been charged with arson following the incident and is due to appear at Birmingham Youth Court on 24 April.

Sculptor Raymond Mason, who trained in Birmingham, flew into the city from Paris on Wednesday to survey the damage for himself.

'Total disaster'

He told the BBC's Midlands Today programme: "I am absolutely staggered.

"I thought there would be parts we could retrieve. I imagined the back could be cleaned and painted up and put in some public building to remind people of the sculpture.

Forward statue
The charred remains of the statue
"But, of course, the whole thing is a total disaster. There is nothing to be saved whatsoever."

Jane Arthur, from the Museum and Art Gallery, said the statue would be replaced by something which celebrated the city of Birmingham.

"We are going to look at a number of different proposals for this particular square," she added.

"We will look at bringing those out for consultation and comment. It is very early stages yet to say what will be here on the site but it will be something to celebrate Birmingham."

Forward, a cream-coloured work known locally as the Lurpak sculpture because it looked as if it was made out of butter, was erected when the square was completed in 1991.

It was supposed to represent the city's early 1990s renaissance.

The BBC's Michael Collie
"The statue took sculptor Raymond Mason more than a year to complete"

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