SHOPPERS gave the nod of approval to a £85,000 sculpture unveiled in Didcot town centre.

The Swirl was lifted in by crane at the top of the Orchard Centre steps on Sunday night.

Residents and shoppers said six-metre stainless steel sculpture as “modern art” and “talking point” for the town, but some questioned the cost.

London artist Maria Rosa Kramer was commissioned by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) to reflect the site’s one-time use as an orchard.

It represents the peeling skin of an apple with one side of the stainless steel ribbon polished to a mirror finish, while the other is painted red.

The Oxford Times:

  • It is quite a nice and modern piece of art. It reminds you of an apple peel as there did used to be an orchard here - Tina Williams, 58, from Abingdon

Visiting for the day, Greater Leys resident Sylvia Houlton said: “It is very nice and modern.

“It makes the buildings in the background look a lot better, otherwise it is just a load of bricks.”

Henley-on-Thames’ Diane Woodford said: “It is a nice focus point that takes away the plain-ness and gives it a bit of character – it looks quite elegant.”

But Great Western Park resident Dawn Warner, 51, said: “It is a waste of money really, they could have spent it on something more important.

The Oxford Times:

  • It brightens up Didcot a bit. But it is in a bit of an odd place – it should be at the bottom of the steps - Tom Peck, 17, from Chilton

“It is not anything children can play on, it just stands there.”

Robert Dyas store manager Sam Chamberlain said: “It is different and it ties in with the Orchard Centre well. I think it works well with the shops.”

New Look store manager Ellie Shepherd added: “I really like it because it is modern and striking, Didcot needs prettifying a bit.”

Yet she said the town really needs a hoped-for extension to the centre, announced in 2011 but has yet to materialise.

The Oxford Times:

  • I’m not that big on it, it seems a bit random and imposing. It should be meaningful and maybe designed by children - Laura Wigley, 39, from Didcot

Most of the funding for the sculpture came from Orchard Centre developer Taylor Woodrow, SODC’s Didcot Growth Fund and Hammerson, the centre leaseholder.

It will be officially unveiled on April 26 from noon with final details yet to be announced.

Didcot Chamber of Commerce president Di Chesterman said: “It is great that Didcot has a piece of significant public art that is going to be a talking point for the future.”

Council arts development officer Miranda Laurence said: “I think it captures the spirit of the recent history of the Orchard Centre really well, while also creating something that looks contemporary and will I hope be enjoyed for many years to come.

The Oxford Times:

  • I like the shape of it, and the colour – the  red is nice and bright. It has a good shine to it - Jack Tolley, 16, from Ladygrove in Didcot

“We’ve had a really good response from the public already who've seen it and I’m looking forward to seeing people react with it soon.”