Dr Salter’s Daydream


Client: Salter Statues Campaign and Southwark Council

Location: London, United Kingdom

Completion date: 2014

Artwork budget: $187,382

Project Team


Diane Gorvin

Industry Resource

Chris Butler Director

Castle Fine Arts Foundry

Industry Resource

Damon Bramley

Sculpture Transport and Installation


The Thames Wall site with its iconic backdrop of London architecture, was refreshed with new planting beds, a granite bench and bollards to provide a setting for four life-size bronzes – Dr Salter, his wife Ada, their daughter Joyce and cat. The work celebrates the lives of a family important to the people of Bermondsey. Initially commissioned by London Docklands Development Corporation and sited in 1991, Dr Salter was stolen November 2011. Local people raised the money to commission a new Dr Salter and his wife. Southwark Council match funded the money raised, to complete the project in November 2014.


Diane Gorvin created the first ‘Dr Salter's Daydream’, and local residents voted for her to be commissioned to replace the stolen bronze and to add the figure of his wife Ada. Read about Ada and Alfred here http://iliveinse16.com/ada-salter-sister-of-the-people/ It was necessary to create more secure seating hence the granite bench, and to improve the garden setting by planting bulbs and flowering shrubs - whilst making space for the public to interact with the sculptures. The emotional theme of the work changes from differing viewpoints, when people are around the choreography of it changes again – see the video. Its unusual to be given such an amazing location in London to work with, and to have the opportunity to create several figures. The Salters were loved because they dedicated their lives to helping the poor in practical and life-changing ways. The placing of the figures to tell their story was important – the sculptures are a part of the neighbourhood, sited near the homes of the descendants of the people they served. The information board placed within the site provides educative information about the Salters and recognises their dedication to the communities of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.


Diane Gorvin's new work for Dr Salter was made in collaboration with Philip Bews, he designed the landscaping, made the armatures and worked on the waxes with Diane at the foundry. During the design stage they had meetings with the Dr Salter Statues Campaigners who were very supportive and appreciative of the new design which evolved over the time it took to raise the money - this involved a lot of work for the campaigners who organised many events and undertook letter writing campaigns to acquire donations, many came from people with a family member who had been treated by Dr Salter. Quakers and socialist movements also donated, due to their connection with the Salters. Southwark Council match funded the money raised by the campaigners and the project was managed by Andrea Allen, Southwark’s Senior Project Manager. The models who sat for the work, Dave Morris, Sue Wright and Anna Palmer were also a part of the collaborative process. The bronzes were cast by Castle Fine Arts Foundry and installed by them with Damon Bramley Sculpture Transport and Philip Bews. The unveiling was a great celebration by local people and family members, glad to have Alfred and Ada home.

Additional Information

The installation depicts Dr Salter in old age remembering happier times when his daughter Joyce was still alive and his wife was younger, he imagines that he has seen Joyce and starts to wave and she responds. Ada is shown with a spade in recognition of all the public planting schemes she instigated, her hand is designed to hold flowers, so people frequently give her lovely bouquets. Ada also looks towards her daughter whilst their cat creeps along the Thames Wall towards Joyce. The Salter Statues Campaign was named 'organisation of the year' at the Southwark Civic Awards.