WIGAN is going back to its culinary roots for its latest piece of public art.
As austere times continue, a consortium of businessmen is stumping up money for a giant pie statue in celebration of the town’s most famous food.
And it will take pride of place in the Wiend while the famous Face of Wigan finally goes on tour around the borough.
Backers feel it will chime well with the annual Wigan Food and Drink Festival, some of whose events take place on the Wiend itself.
And it is hoped that the 18ft high installation – done out in the same stainless steel finish as the Face – will be in place by the time locally-raised thesp Sir Ian McKellen arrives to see his star installed on the Walk of Fame outside the nearby Wigan Life Centre.
The Face of Wigan was the winner of a publicly-judged competition back in 2008. Created by English sculptor Rick Kirby, its £80,000 cost was met by the then owner of the Grand Arcade, Modus Properties, as part of an agreement with Wigan Council. But it was never the intention to keep it permanently on the Wiend.
The idea was for it to spend six months to a year in various town centres around the borough so all residents could feel the benefit.
Then along came the recession and it was deemed too expensive to keep uprooting it and re-installing it.
Now, thanks to a mystery backer, the big head is finally going on tour. The schedule has yet to be decided.
But a spokesman for the consortium said: “The Face going on its travels would have meant there would be a big glaring hole in the middle of the Wiend, just at a time when it is beginning to look its best again.
Some people may think it is a retrogressive step in a supposedly forward-thrusting town, but we don’t think we should forget our roots
“We knew the council in its present financial straits would not be able to justify paying taxpayers’ money on something to replace it so a few of us in Wigan decided to come up with a plan B.
“Wiganers have been known as pie-eaters for generations, and they are just as popular today as they have ever been. We even have the World Pie-Eating Championships here!
“Some people may think it is a retrogressive step in a supposedly forward-thrusting town, but we don’t think we should forget our roots. And with all this continuing austerity, getting back to food basics seems particularly appropriate.
“We hope it will put a smile on people’s faces too and maybe get folk’s gastric juices going and so promote our local cafes, restaurants and bakeries.”
Acclaimed Danish artist Berndt Krusst has been commissioned to build the three-ton structure at workshops in Humberside. Features will include a foil filling and rivet-enforced pastry.
The spokesman added: “Forget Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North. We’ll have Lord of the Pies here in Wigan!”