The Headington Shark
The Headington Shark in 2007, before refurbishment
|Dimensions||7.6 m (25 ft)|
Description and locationEdit
The shark first appeared on 9 August 1986, having been commissioned by the house's owner Bill Heine, a local radio presenter. The sculpture, which is reported to weigh 4 long hundredweight (200 kg) and is 25 feet (7.6 m) long, and is made of painted fibreglass, is named Untitled 1986 (written on the gate of the house).  It took three months to build.
The sculpture was erected on the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. It was designed by sculptor John Buckley and constructed by Anton Castiau, a local carpenter and friend of Buckley. Heine said "The shark was to express someone feeling totally impotent and ripping a hole in their roof out of a sense of impotence and anger and desperation... It is saying something about CND, nuclear power, Chernobyl and Nagasaki". The structure is in deliberate contrast with its otherwise ordinary suburban setting.
Created by sculptor John Buckley, the shark was controversial when it first appeared. Oxford City Council tried to have it taken down on grounds of safety, and then on the grounds that it had not given planning permission for the shark, offering to host it at the local swimming pool instead, but there was much local support for the shark. Eventually the matter was taken to the central government, where Tony Baldry, a minister in the Department of the Environment, who assessed the case on planning grounds, ruled in 1992 that the shark would be allowed to remain as it did not result in harm to the visual amenity.
The unexpected shark appeared in a 2002 newspaper advertising campaign for a new financial advice service offered by Freeserve. The advertisement, designed by M&C Saatchi, featured a photograph of the house with the caption "Freedom to find the mortgage that's right for you".
Heine wrote a short book about the shark, which was published in 2011.
In 2013, the sculpture was the subject of an April Fools' Day story in the Oxford Mail, which announced the establishment of a fictitious £200,000 fund by Oxford City Council to support the creation of similar sculptures on the roofs of other homes in the area.
- Cardiff Kook
- The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991 shark-based artwork by Damien Hirst
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- Mohdin, Aamna (7 April 2019). "'It went in beautifully as the postman was passing': the story of the Headington Shark". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
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- Purves, Libby (9 August 2007). "Let's salute fibreglass fish and wacky artists". The Times. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- MacKinnon, Ian (22 May 1992). "Officials reprieve shark for Art's sake". The Independent. p. 2.
- "Shark adds bite to advert". Oxford Mail. 14 November 2002.
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- Jennings, Tom (1 April 2013). "Shark 's tale is given £200k of added bite". The Oxford Mail.