During National Volunteers' Week 2022, Art UK is celebrating the contributions made by our sculpture project volunteers. During the first week of June, we will showcase a different volunteer story each day that details why and how they decided to participate.

Please introduce yourself

My name is Robert H. Taylor and I live on the Norfolk/Suffolk border having moved here in 1972. I've been involved with photography since 1962. Photography has kept me employed directly and indirectly all my working life. It has taken me all over the globe and to the bottom of some of the deepest seas.

Robert H. Taylor photographing a monument

Robert H. Taylor photographing a monument

In June 2018 I obtained a Licentiate with the Royal Photographic Society, and this coincided with my introduction to Art UK. I've always had an interest in architecture, so this project appealed to me. I agreed to take on the whole county of Norfolk and the top end of Suffolk, not really realising the magnitude of the project.

Eddie II

Eddie II 2002

Xceptional Designs (founded 1997)

Waveney River Centre, Burgh St Peter, Norfolk

Why did you apply for your role within the Art UK sculpture project?

Truth be told, I had been looking for an interesting project since my wife passed away in 2015 and this project appeared to be the ideal opportunity to leave a legacy during my lifetime.

Three Wise Monkeys

Three Wise Monkeys 2000

Alex Johannsen (b.1965) and Chris Summerfield

Angel Road, Norwich, Norfolk

What did you enjoy most within your role on the Art UK sculpture project?

I really enjoyed the challenge and I was not going to be beaten by it, even though it took the best part of three years to complete. I covered more than 3,000 miles, visited over 130 locations, photographed something in the order of 700 items and submitted over 7,000 images.

Spirits of Lowestoft

Spirits of Lowestoft 2006

Charles Normandale (active c.2009)

Station Square, Lowestoft, Suffolk

One element of this project that I particularly enjoyed was the Church Conservation Trust requests and I visited five 'at-risk' churches which contained some magnificent carvings of angels and pew ends.

The most interesting fact that I discovered was that during the carving of the angels, the carver would look across the workshop for inspiration and carve the face of one of the other carvers. So the faces are of real people (or so the story goes!).

Was there anything about your role that you found particularly challenging?

Yes – getting up in the dark and arriving on location before sun-up to ensure I had unrestricted access before most people were up and about! Especially so when using my drone!

Columbus House

Columbus House 1907

Ralph Scott Cockrill (1879–1956) and Doulton & Co.

Waveney Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk

What were your favourite sculptures visited/photographed for the project?

There are so many and it's very difficult to make a list of favourites, so I have included a few within this article.

Naval War Memorial

Naval War Memorial 1953

Frederick H. Crossley (1868–1955) and George Herbert Tyson Smith (1883–1972)

Yarmouth Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk

Memorial to the USAAF 96th Bomb Group (H)

Memorial to the USAAF 96th Bomb Group (H) 1999–2001

Martin Rance

Snetterton Racetrack, Snetterton, Norfolk

One thing that really stands out in Norfolk is that the county is very poor indeed when it comes to sculptures and statues, and being a maritime county there are lots of references/headstones to marine disasters/rescues, heroes and innovators.

Headstone of John Whittome

Headstone of John Whittome 1891

unknown artist

All Saints Church, Ely Road, Hilgay, Norfolk

Headstone of Captain Manby

Headstone of Captain Manby 1854

unknown artist

All Saints Church, Ely Road, Hilgay, Norfolk

Pirate Sign (Mary Read)

Pirate Sign (Mary Read) early 18th C

unknown artist

The 'Earle Arms', The Street, Heydon, Norfolk

Many of these can only be found in long-forgotten church graveyards. Here are just a few:

Beauchamp Lifeboat Memorial

Beauchamp Lifeboat Memorial 1903

J. Whitehead & Sons Ltd (active 1880–1985)

East & West Caister Village Cemetery, Ormsby Road, Caister, Norfolk

Headstone of Thomas Smith

Headstone of Thomas Smith 1725

unknown artist

St Mary's Church, Blakeney Road, Wiveton, Norfolk

Headstone of Thomas Keppel North

Headstone of Thomas Keppel North 1919

unknown artist

St Mary's Church, Rougham, Norfolk

This whole project has been very enlightening and I'm so proud to have taken part in it. There have been ups and downs, long days and cold winter mornings, very difficult lighting conditions, but who said it was going to be easy? But very enjoyable it was, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Robert H. Taylor, Art UK Volunteer

Art UK thanks each and every volunteer that contributed their time to capturing an incredible record of public sculpture in the UK.

More photographs by sculpture project volunteers can be viewed in a Curation: Art UK Volunteer Photographers Gallery