'First Flight' statue at Overbeck's

First Flight July 2019

‘First Flight’ by Dublin born sculptor Albert Bruce-Joy 1842-1924 is a delightful work representing a life size figure of a young girl holding a nest of baby larks in her left hand whilst with her right, raised over her head, she offers liberty to the adult bird poised on her fingers.

'First Flight' by Albert Bruce-Joy

This bronze is a fine example of poetic sculpture and was the last piece of garden art bought by Otto, and the only one which remains in the garden. Originally made in marble, by 1875 it was being cast in bronze and these were often exhibited. In 1883 it was listed in a gallery catalogue with the Alfred Lord Tennyson 'Sea Dreams' verse which inspired it ( see below). Another bronze is in Aberdeen Art Gallery where it is called ‘The Lark’s First Flight’. The models for the statue were, for the face Miss Kitchen daughter of the Dean of Durham, and for the body Connie Gilchrist who became Countess of Orkney.


'First Flight' during the Second World War

The adult bird is missing from the statue in the Overbeck’s garden, and was, apparently, 'shot' off by a soldier stationed at Overbeck’s during the Second World War. Despite the garden being out of bounds to the soldiers one broke in at night and, using a catapult for target practice, 'shot' the bird. Ellis Manley, the head gardener at that time, found the bird on the ground the next morning and took it to the gardeners hut for safe keeping until it could be reinstated on the statue, which never happened and the bird was sadly lost.


Alfred Lord Tennyson 'Sea Dreams'

'What does the little birdie say
In her nest at peep of day?
Let me fly, says little birdie,
Mother, let me fly away.
Birdie, rest a little longer,
Till the little wings are stronger.
So she rests a little longer,
Then she flies away'


When you admire 'First Flight, you help to look after her

Make your way to the aptly named 'Statue Garden' where you can find this beautiful sculpture.

Should you wish to have a replica of the statue, then visit the shop (when open) where you can purchase a 'statuette' to take home as a momento of your visit.