Beatified John Henry Newman statue funding issue solved

Artist Tim Tolkien explains the process of getting the statue ready for permanent display

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A funding shortfall to pay for a work of art to celebrate the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Birmingham has been met by the city council.

The sculpture of the Blessed John Henry Newman was commissioned by the authority, to mark the visit last year.

It was hoped public donations would pay for the statue of the Victorian clergyman who was beatified by the Pope in a special Mass.

However, because not enough was raised the council has plugged the gap.

The statue of the Blessed John Henry Newman has been made by Tim Tolkien, the great-nephew of author JRR Tolkien.

The city council said it cost £30,000 of which £5,000 was raised by public donations.

'Economic benefit'

Chris Rice, head of Heritage Services at the council said: "We felt we had to honour a commitment that was made at the time and also you have to think about the huge economic benefit that the city got from the Pope's visit, and also the profile for the city.

"It's a pretty good return I think in those terms."

The statue with a temporary painted coating was on show in Cofton Park for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI on 19 September 2010.

It was then on display alongside an exhibition dedicated to the Blessed John Henry Newman at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

The statue is now undergoing work to apply final coatings to make it weather-proof.

The original plan was to site it in Cofton Park but Chris Rice said they were now "considering a couple of other options".

"One of which, and this is by no means confirmed, is the Birmingham Oratory," he added.

It is hoped the statue will be completed by the autumn.

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