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The Water Bearer

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Water Bearer

The Water Bearer

A reconstructed Water Bearer statue was unveiled at the official opening of Lower Bluff Walk last week.  Lower Bluff Walk is part of the city’s emphasis of a pedestrian walkway where residents and visitors of Lynchburg can stroll, gather, enjoy food and music and take in the sweeping views of the James River.

The historic, seven-foot tall, approximately 300-400 pounds, zinc statue was put on display at the Lynchburg city reservoir, at the corner of Clay and Seventh Streets in 1883.  The original Water Bearer was purchased from a catalog for $500.00 was the first public art in the city. and was to commemorate the opening of the city reservoir in 1829, after a dam was placed across the James River and a canal leading from the dam to the water wheel-powered pump station that supplied the water to the reservoir was completed.  The female figure, perhaps Egyptian, stood balanced on one foot with a large jug of water on her left shoulder.  By 2012 the Water Bearer lay broken in many pieces.  Stress fractures were found on the ankles after standing more than 130 years.

The statue’s reconstruction and its cost were hurdles the Lynchburg Historic Foundation were willing to tackle in order to bring a part of Lynchburg’s art history back to life.  After successfully raising $40,000 for the restoration project the real work began.

After carefully examining the original zinc water bearer it was decided that it couldn’t be repaired so the Foundation hired an artist to re-create the original statue using the original pieces as molds for the new bronze statue.   The artist from Alexandria, VA, who taught himself to sculpt,decided he would recast it in bronze, calling bronze “a forever metal”.

Working almost exclusively for 24 months, on this project, Ken Faraoni used a technique called “lost- wax casting”.  He created about 30 molds backed with plaster and poured casting wax into them.  Once he cleaned up the wax he took the pieces to Colorado where they were put together and a ceramic shell was created around the wax.  Liquid bronze was poured into the wax.  Once the bronze had cooled the ceramic pieces were hit with a hammer and the bronze recasting was left behind.  After smoothing out the recasting, a painstaking procedure, the final polishing was completed followed by a few coats of lacquer.  The statue was now ready to be displayed.

On a pleasantly warm, sunny day the recreated Water Bearer was unveiled to a large crowd of onlookers, who gasped when the beautifully recasted Water Bearer sculpture was revealed.  The statue is now a landmark of the work that the city of Lynchburg has accomplished in it’s revitalization and guides the way to the future of downtown.  Take the time to walk along Lower Bluff Walk.  Stop in one of the delicious restaurants for a meal or beverage.  Or just sit on a park bench and enjoy the view of Riverfront Park and the James River.

The Water Bearer is a pleasant walk from the Carriage House Inn B & B.  And once at the statue you can wander through downtown or onto Percival’s Island or the Blackwater Creek Trail.