Manual Ref* NFnrNOR180 Show 11 images 591

Homage to Sir Thomas Browne - Hay Hill

County Norfolk   District Council Norwich City Council 
Civil Parish or equivalent Norwich  Town/Village* Norwich 
Road Haymarket 
Precise Location Hay Hill 
OS Grid Ref TG228083  Postcode NR22 
Previous location(s)  
Setting In urban square  Access Public 
Artist/Maker Role Qualifier
Anne and Patrick Poirier  Sculptor(s)   

Commissioned by

Commissioned through Commissions East and Funded by Arts Council England East Norwich City Council Norfolk County Council in consultation with Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery Norwich School of Art & Design HEART 

Design & Constrn period


Date of installing


Exact date of unveiling



Abstract Animal Architectural
Commercial Commemorative Composite
Free Functional Funerary
Heraldic Military Natural
Non-Commemorative Performance Portable
Religious Roadside, Wayside Sculptural
Temporary, Mobile Other  

Object Type

Building Clock Tower Architectural
Coat of Arms Cross Fountain
Landscape Marker Medallion
Mural Panel Readymade
Relief Shaft Sculpture
Statue Street Furniture War Memorial
Other Object Sub Type: Sculptural salon

Subject Type

Allegorical Mythological Pictorial
Figurative Non-figurative Portrait
Still-life Symbolic Other

Subject Sub Type

Bust Equestrian Full-length
Group Head Reclining
Seated Standing Torso
Part Material Dimension
Brain  Arabescato marble not polished but stippled  H. 1.10 L. 1.30 metres W. 1.10 metres 
Eye  Polished Marble  H. 1.20 metres L. 1.50 metres W. 1 metre 

Work is

Extant Not Sited Lost


Norwich City Council 

Listing status

Grade I Grade II* Grade II Don't Know Not Listed

Surface Condition

Corrosion, Deterioration Accretions
Bird Guano Abrasions, cracks, splits
Biological growth Spalling, crumbling
Metallic staining Previous treatments

Structural Condition

Armature exposed Broken or missing parts
Replaced parts Loose elements
Cracks, splits, breaks, holes Spalling, crumbling
Water collection Other


Graffiti Structural damage Surface Damage

Overall condition

Good Fair Poor


No Known Risk At Risk Immediate
Inscriptions On eye: MEMORABILIA; On benches: URNE BURRIALS/ VULGAR ERRORS; On low tables: RELIGIO MEDICI/GARDEN OF CYRUS; On lozenges: AMPHIBIUM/BRAMPTON URNS. These refer to Sir Thomas's major publications: Religio Medici (best understood as: the Christian Beliefs of a Doctor), his most famous book, was written in 1636 and published in authorised form in 1643; Vulgar errors is the common title for 'Pseudodoxia epidemica or enquiries into very many received tenents and commonly presumed truths', published in 1646; Hydriotaphia, the original title of Urne Burials, was published in 1658 together with The Garden of Cyrus. (The most accessible modern edition is that by Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Sir Thomas Browne Selected Writings, London, 1968) 

Description (physical)

The sculpture forms a ‘salon’ or room with stone furniture for the use of those who may pass by and stop, suggested in the City Council’s brief which also noted the paths through Hay Hill. These provide the main viewpoints for the sculpture with views of the key pieces, the eye and brain, from the major approaches. The ‘salon’ is arranged following the quincunx, which (to quote from Sebald, Rings of Saturn,London, 1999, 20-21): ‘is composed by using the corners of a regular quadrilateral and the point at which its diagonals intersect' since Sir Thomas had argued - in the Garden of Cyrus - that the quincunx was the fundamental principle of natural order as rays strike the eye, fundamental for our perception of creation. The beautifully polished marble block with the eye is the outstanding single piece, its high polish toned down in the brain, which is angled towards the site once occupied by Sir Thomas’s house on Orford Place. The brain was chosen to complement the eye, since in a key passage in Religio Medici Sir Thomas noted that although humans were superior to beasts because of their spirituality and belief in a supreme Christian creator, yet 'in the study of (human) anatomy ...there is not any thing of moment more than I can discover in the cranie (head) of a beast. In addition to the eye and brain the 'salon' is made up of: five polished granite seats decorated with a schematic brain showing the connections between the major areas of memory, sight, creativity etc set out in a quincunce - three in line from the statue of Sir Tomas Browne two at the sides. To these were added: two large curved benches of granite, with two low tables polished granite; two polished granite curved lozenges and five round stools of polished granite. Twenty-two circular red blue green and white lights are set into the pavement. 

Description (iconographical)

The commission costing £200,000 followed an Arts Council grant for a sculpture for the Forum in 2002. This was then made available to Norwich City Council and after consideration of a scheme for the market resulted in the present site specific scheme. £30,000 of this budget was spent on a series of temporary commissions in 2005 for local artists relating to Ancient Marketplaces of Norwich. When it was decided to site the commission on Hay Hill, the brief noted the need for seating and the two main paths through the site from in front of Top Shop towards the Forum and from Gentleman’s Walk (Starbucks) to the lane between McDonalds and NEXT towards Chapelfield and along Weavers Lane from the Market. These provide the main viewpoints for the eye and brain which can be approached and viewed from any direction. On 17 October 2005 Anne and Patrick Poirier presented their original drawings to Norwich City Council. 12 pages have been bound in a red leather notebook (290 by 200 mm.) lettered on inside ANNE ET PATRICK POIRIER MEMORABILIA OF THOMAS BROWNE FOR NORWICH. The outside is decorated with the ‘brain’ design engraved on the back of the granite seats. The notebook shows the design superimposed over a quincunx and a reproduction of the quincunx from the Dream of Cyrus, used as the basis for the display of the various elements of the scheme. The wording carved throughout is introduced in pencil on the verso of the sheets. They also include an unexecuted project for 23 bronze letters ea. H. 075 spelling out THE/WORLD/TO/ME/IS/BUT/A/DREAM. There are also 8 loose watercolours on heavy textured paper, 240 by 360 mm. These include one on tracing paper with a plan of the final lay-out to show pedestrian circulation, detailed drawings of the elements and two drawings of mise-en-scene from Haymarket and from William Booth Street, in front of Next.  


Date taken:  8/7/2007
Date logged:  25/1/2008

Photographed by:
Sarah Cocke

On Site Inspection

Date:  8/7/2007

Inspected by:
Richard Cocke

Sources and References

Author Unknown, Homage to Thomas Browne An Artwork for Hay Hill by Anne and Patrick Poirier, Norwich City Council, May 2007;Information from Marion Catlin, Cultural Development Officer, Norwich city Council; Bennett, J., Sir Thomas Browne ‘a man of achievement in literature’ Cambridge, 1962 


Date entered:  21/8/2007

Data inputter:
Richard Cocke