Thoughts On The Ski Jump Sculpture

ski jump statue

The Town of Brattleboro has been given a gift of a metal ski-jumper-shaped object that lights up. It will be placed near Wells Fountain during the winter season. The selectboard accepted the gift at their most recent meeting.

The gift is in celebration of 100 years of Harris Hill, a truly unique part of the Brattleboro landscape. Creating a sculpture to celebrate is a good idea. And a free gift of a sculpture is a great thing.

The presentation to the selectboard left me with some questions, though.


The gift is intended to be a copy of a sculpture in Europe.  With Brattleboro claiming to be an arts town,  copying something by someone else just doesn’t seem the best we can do. Harris Hill is an original, and should be celebrated with something original, by a local artist.

This gift shows no hill, no Harris, and no significant mention of 100 years.  It’s rather generic.


I hesitate to use the word sculpture here because those offering the gift insisted to the board that an artist was not needed. Looking at the photos, I’d suggest that an artist would be useful for improving the design.  

The skier object being copied is hung high over a street with no interfering background elements in its original location. It looks as if it is soaring off a mountain.  Part of the reason it is striking is that nothing is behind it.

Our rendering shows an object to sit in a visually crowded and distracting location. It will compete visually with the design of Wells Fountain and metalwork there, cars and trucks blocking the view,  and in winter may appear to be under the winter carnival torch flame from some angles.


Jessica Gelter pointed out that typically this type of installation would start in the Arts Committee, follow the procedures for outdoor installations, and would be recommended to the board by the committee.  This project bypassed that oversight.


The big question is why isn’t this history-marking object being placed at Harris Hill?  Harris Hill is where the ski jump is located, where people who like the ski jump go to watch people ski jump, has lots of open space and lack of visual distraction, and could act as a year-round advertisement for the jump weekend.

If it must be downtown away from the Hill, why not put it near the train station with Wantastiquet behind it, to better mimic the original?


What is proposed isn’t bad, and the offer is generous. I just think it could be much better with a bit more effort.

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