Tributes pour in for the creator of Birmingham’s iconic Bullring bull

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Laurence Broderick, the renowned British sculptor who created the Bullring Bull in Birmingham, has passed away

Laurence Broderick, a sculptor whose hands shaped the iconic bull statue gracing Birmingham’s Bullring, has passed away at the age of 88.

Known for his public artwork, officially titled “The Guardian,” Broderick’s creation has became a beloved symbol of the city since its unveiling in 2003.

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Born in Bristol on June 18, 1935, Broderick’s early life was marked by a passion for the arts. He studied painting, illustration, and sculpture at the Regent Street Polytechnic, from 1952 to 1957 and later honed his skills at the Hammersmith School of Art, from 1964 to 1965.

He died on April 18, 2024 and spent his final years enjoying time with his family.

The city of Birmingham, moved by his passing, have expressed their sorrow and admiration by laying flowers at the base of the iconic bronze bull statue at the Bullring shopping centre.

His career began as an illustrator and painter, but it was in the medium of stone and bronze that Broderick found his true calling.

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Laurence Broderick tribute in the BullringLaurence Broderick tribute in the Bullring
Laurence Broderick tribute in the Bullring | Flickr

The bull, a massive bronze sculpture, stands as a testament to Broderick’s ability to capture both the power and the grace of the natural world.

Weighing over 6.5 tons and stretching 4.5 meters long, it is one of the largest bronze animal sculptures in the country. But beyond its size, the bull symbolises the spirit of Birmingham—a city historically tied to the marketplace and trade, characteristics embodied by the bull’s robust form.

It was ranked alongside the Statue of Liberty and Michelangelo’s statue of David as one of the world's best pieces of public art, in a list compiled by the Independent newspaper.

Broderick described the bull as a “gateway emblem for Birmingham throughout history” and said, "the objective of the sculpture is to reflect the characteristics of the trade and the marketplace that are synonymous with the bull".

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His work would ultimately inspire the city’s raging bull, later named Ozzy, which thousands of people turned out to visit after it starred in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Laurence Broderick with the Bull in BirminghamLaurence Broderick with the Bull in Birmingham
Laurence Broderick with the Bull in Birmingham | Flickr

Broderick’s legacy extends beyond the Bullring.

His love for wildlife, particularly otters, led him to become the joint president of the International Otter Survival Fund.

His commitment to the natural world was not just reflected in his art but also in his advocacy for conservation.

The International Otter Survival Fund intends to honour Laurence Broderick’s achievements in an article in their forthcoming newsletter.

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In his later years, Broderick continued to draw, even as sculpting became difficult. His son Graeham recalls his father often saying that “art was all he ever wanted to do.”

Broderick's death came days before an auction of some of his work at the Lyon & Turnbull auction house in London.

However, a miniature replica of the iconic Bullring bull in Birmingham, known as the ‘last edition’, is set to be auctioned off, eight days following the passing of Broderick.

He leaves behind a legacy that is both tangible in the bronze of the Bullring’s guardian and intangible in the inspiration he provided to aspiring artists.

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Laurence Broderick’s work will continue to stand as a symbol of creativity and resilience, much like the bull that watches over Birmingham’s bustling marketplace.

He is survived by his wife, Ingrid, their two sons, and four grandchildren.

His youngest son, Oliver, died in 2019 at the age of 46.

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