Hidden Figures

A Community Engagement Project

The original inspiration for this project was a figure of Anthony Durman’s daughter Alethea that can still be seen in a secluded spot in a garden off Fisherton Street. Local resident Mrs Hawtrey watched from her window as visitors to the city took selfies in front of the figure from the bridge and asked whether such figures could not pop up all over the city? Led by Anthony and supported by Safer and Supportive Salisbury, the project captured the imagination of many local people, attracted council support and funding and importantly has involved individuals and groups in its development.
Anthony and Mrs Autry
Anthony and Mrs Autry
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So ‘Hidden Figures’ was born; the plan to create nine life-size sculptures of Salisbury people and to locate them in out of the way, unexpected and secure locations around the city. Each of the figures will be nominated by local individuals and organisations.

The start-up funding for the project was secured from Salisbury City Council and the Salisbury Area Board of Wiltshire Council bolstered by several private donations from individuals. This enabled the purchase of a 3D printer and the materials for the first figure.
Local archaeologist and celebrity Phil Harding had consented to be the first ‘Hidden Figure’ and Wessex Archaeology had the technology – a hand held structured light scanner – and importantly the expertise – in the shape of Will Foster, 3D artist and they generously agreed to help.
Phil reports that the process was quite complicated and time consuming, and that lots of scans were made of different parts of his body. “I don’t know what he did”, Phil recounts, “but Will gave Anthony a scan of me which was then e mailed!”

Here is a video of the work in progress, with thanks to Wessex Archaeology – Watch video

Here is a 3D interactive link, thanks also to Wessex Archaeology – View 3D model

This file then had to be ‘sliced’ into sections to allow the 3D printer to generate the model. In stepped Luke Liang an A level student at Bishop Wordsworth’s School, who used his computer skills to convert the file so it was suitable for 3D printing.
A 20% scale model of Phil was developed first, to validate the technology and in the end the full size figure had to be printed as 14 different body parts and these were then assembled into one life size sculpture.

The original plan was that the figures would be printed by a commercial studio, but with a total of nine figures in the schedule, it quickly became clear that a more cost-effective solution was required. Anthony identified a suitable printer in Sweden that could do the work and this was ordered by Anne Trevett, Chair of Safer and Supportive Salisbury. What was not anticipated was the length of time it would take to reach Salisbury! With issues over (new) post-Brexit paperwork in the middle of a global pandemic, the printer took some three months to arrive.
The printer was initially sited at Wessex Community Action in Churchfields but as both Adrian Lucas, the technician who magically assembled the printer and Anthony were working at John Hanson School, Andover it made sense to site it there. The school head kindly gave permission and work began in earnest.

Pictured here are members of the project team, left to right: Adrian Green, Director, Salisbury Museum, Cllr Jeremy Nettle, SaSS Steering Group, Adrian Lucas, Technician, Anthony Durman, Hidden Figures Artist, Anne Trevett, Chair SaSS

PLA Many, many hours of printing followed, led by Adrian who produced and transported the ‘body parts’ for assembly in Salisbury. The figures are made of recycled plastic – PLA – so will be a sustainable and environmentally sensitive addition to our city’s artistic and cultural offering.

Salisbury Men’s Shed agreed to help by producing a beautiful base for the first figure. Suzi was part of a team of local volunteers who supported by assembling the pieces of ‘Phil.’

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Alongside this work ‘Hidden Figures’ administrator Sue Martin, pictured here with Anthony, carried out a wide-ranging consultation exercise with individuals and groups across the city to gather nominations and to identify who might be popular choices for future sculptures. More news about who has been identified for Figure 2 will follow in the near future.
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So the first Hidden Figure has been located in Salisbury Museum and all the project team are grateful to the Museum for offering ‘Phil’ a home.
Speaking of the project, Safer and Supportive Salisbury Chair Anne Trevett said: “This project is a true community engagement effort. Led by Anthony and supported by Safer and Supportive Salisbury, we are thrilled that Phil agreed to be our first figure and that so many people have been involved in creating his likeness. Thank you too to the Museum for giving him a home.”
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And what does our first figure say of the project? Speaking of his involvement in the process, Phil Harding said: “This is very much a bit of fun; it’s an archaeologist who is happy in his work. I’m pleased as punch to be the first figure, but I truly look forward to seeing more figures, which will make it what it strives to be, a bigger community project full of interesting people with diverse skills. The total ‘body scan’ was certainly a new and unique experience, but does it have to stress features of too much real ale!”
Now on to the next figure!
Thank you so much Phil for being our first figure! Thanks to Will Foster of Wessex Archaeology (3D scanning), Adrian Lucas of John Hanson School, Andover (hours of 3D printing), Luke Liang of Bishop Wordsworth School (software work), thanks to the Salisbury Shed members for creating the plinth and all the volunteers who helped with assembly. Thank you to Wessex Archaeology for their support in allowing us to link to their excellent media materials. Thanks to Salisbury City Council and Wiltshire Council plus the individual donors for funding our project.
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