Gilbert Bayes

Gilbert Bayes (1872 – 1953)
British Sculptor and medalist
In association with Royal Doulton

In 1930‘s Gilbert Bayes created these washing post sculptures in the courtyards of new housing blocks in Somers Town. These sculptures marked a time of change in Somers Town as Basil Jellicoe had declared a ‘war on slums’ and advocated the building of high quality homes with facilities such as nursery schools for the poorest tenants. Gilbert Bayes (Author) intention was to make art accessible to the public not just through its location in everyday settings but also through its subject matter. Many of the sculptural finials were inspired by nursery rhymes.

These washing posts tell different stories to different audiences for example to a long standing resident they might tell the story of hope, celebration and opportunity whilst to the outsider they may appear more obscure and perhaps holy.

The tone of voice is contradictory with the context they are viewed in. Notice the blue gates in front of all the doors and the gates on the courtyard entrance. Elements which tell visitors to ‘keep out’ and tell a story of anxiety and closed-ness. The washing posts however are very open and encourage viewers to walk through and around, they are very intriguing. Interestingly it seems they have not been used to hold washing for a very long time, perhaps this also tells of the shift in society – trust and privacy.

edited 5 October, 2015 by Admin