An interesting public sculpture in Cambridge to mark the life of Walter ‘Snowy’ Farr.
Farr was a prominent charity fundraiser often seen in the Market Square of Cambridge. He collected money for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and in recognition of his efforts, he received an MBE from the Prince of Wales. Snowy always wore unusual clothes, hats, and had a long white beard, he was often followed by tame animals: mice, cats, dogs – even the occasional goat.
Over several decades, Snowy raised approximately £62,000 for the Cambridgeshire Society for the Blind and Partially Sighted, £33,700 for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and £28,305 for Camsight, a charity supporting people with sight loss in Cambridgeshire.
Within a few hours of the announcement of his death in March 2007, suggestions were made that a statue or similar piece of art should be erected near the site where he collected money for charity in recognition of his efforts. Cambridge councillors agreed that it would be appropriate to have a permanent tribute to mark not only his contribution to fundraising but also to mark his contribution to the city of Cambridge. A brief was developed that called for artists to create a sculpture to celebrate Snowy’s achievements and to provide an interpretation of his character.
Gary Webb, the commissioned artist, said: “This sculpture needed to be abstract because [Snowy Farr] was an abstract, eccentric English character. I wanted to emphasise Snowy Farr’s instantly recognisable features and colours so that they can continue to bring that extra bit of spark to Cambridge like they have done in the past.
“For this project I didn’t want to make a formal, serious, figurative sculpture like Nelson on a column or Churchill on a pillar. Snowy Farr wasn’t that kind of guy: I wanted to bring the fun back and make something much more engaging and memorable for all ages, but especially children as he seems to figure in the imaginations of all that saw him when they were young.”
The commission was funded with developer contributions for public art, which can only be used for the commissioning of new public works of art.