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Emergency teams called to rescue ‘body in water’ at Butley Creek find bronze statue instead

PUBLISHED: 11:01 12 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:01 12 August 2017

Lawrence Edwards' sculpture A Thousand Tides in Butley Creek was mistaken for a body in the water. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Lawrence Edwards' sculpture A Thousand Tides in Butley Creek was mistaken for a body in the water. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Archant

A sculptor’s ceremonial farewell to the Suffolk landscape that “fed his imagination for 15 years” has come back to haunt him – after it was mistaken for a body in the water.

Edwards, pictured soon after the sculture's installation, is said to be distressed by the commotion caused. Picture: SIMON PARKER Edwards, pictured soon after the sculture's installation, is said to be distressed by the commotion caused. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Lawrence Edwards is said to be “distressed” after the bronze sculpture he left partially submerged in Butley Creek led to three emergency services being called out on rescue operations.

His piece, “A Thousand Tides”, was installed in the marshes around 16 months ago to be a parting gift as Edwards prepared to say “goodbye” to his studios in Butley Creek and move to a larger, more industrial complex outside Halesworth.

The full-sized figure was sunk into the mud so that it would be under the surface at high tide and slowly be revealed as the water level drops.

Weaving together brambles, branches and leaf-litter, Edwards aimed to create an impression of humanity being formed from the landscape.

Edwards pictured in the Butley Mills Studio he has since left behind. Picture: SIMON PARKER Edwards pictured in the Butley Mills Studio he has since left behind. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Unfortunately, the impression created for some observers was too realistic for its own good.

On Wednesday, firefighters, police and coastguard teams were called to the creek, which is near Orford, after a member of the public reported having seen the figure of a man lying in the water.

A Suffolk police spokesman described the work as “quite realistic”.

Edwards was said to be upset by the “commotion” caused.

“The coastguard have been wonderful in their response, really understanding,” he added.

“We are in discussions with them at the moment as what to do best.”

Edwards’ plan for the sculpture had been for it to sink gradually into the mud of the creek, giving it a sense of archaeology and forming links with the Sutton Hoo burial and the mystical history of the East Anglian coast.

Speaking to this newspaper after its installation, he said it was a tribute to the landscape that had “fed my imagination for 15 years”.

“It’s about leaving,” he added. “About respecting the past. It’s about saying goodbye before I deal with arriving somewhere new.”

Now he fears the piece may be under threat, though no one has yet asked for it to be removed.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “Police received a call from a member of the public reporting what they believed to be a body in the river.

“The fire service and coastguard were also called to assist, but a short while later this was actually confirmed to be a sculpture.”

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