LOCAL companies are being sought to help cover the cost of creating a giant oyster sculpture, which will look out across the waterfront in Falmouth, providing funding can be sourced.

Now that planning permission has been granted for The Oyster, the man behind the project, Cornish artist Andy Nicholls is concentrating his efforts on raising the money needed to make it become a reality.

“We have an application going in in the next couple of weeks to the Arts Council and that is for £95,000 which will pay for about half of it,” said Andy. “Now we have planning permission, we are revisiting the costings to crystalise the figures.

“The costings to date have all been estimates so we are now doing some fine tuning and within that process we are hoping to get costs down.”

With the plan to get half the money from the Arts Council plus another couple of applications going into other funding bodies, the hope is the rest will come from local sponsorship with companies being urged to come on board and support the project.

“We are planning on asking companies to sponsor each of the 45 blocks around the base of the statue,” said Andy. “We are looking at about £3,000 a block and for that they will get their name on the skirt of the seat and also a desk top maquette of the sculpture so they will have their own mini-oyster.

“We are planning on giving a percentage of the corporate sponsorship to a charity which works with the environment – we are hoping to have some funds that we can donate.”

The Oyster will stand 8.4 metres high and be built in stainless steel with the shell section opening and closing in time with the tide. Around its base will be seating, 12 metres in circumference made from reclaimed timber from Falmouth Docks which will replicate the Truro Corporation measuring gauge, historically used by oyster fisherman.

Cornwall Council has granted approval for The Oyster to be placed on the small quay behind Zizzi next to Events Square. A model of the sculpture has been on display in the Maritime Museum since May and will form part of the opening ceremony of this year’s Falmouth Oyster Festival in October.

If all goes to plan, the actual sculpture will be unveiled ahead of next year’s oyster festival. “I am very hopeful because there has been an overall positive response to it,” said Andy.

“Pendennis Shipyard have agreed to project manage it and we are meeting this week to go through how that’s going to work. The design is very buildable so once we have the money we can get on with it and it can be built in about four to five months.

“It will be assembled at Pendennis and floated over from there on a barge on high tide and craned into place. It will be tested for a month before it’s officially unveiled.”