An iconic Essex work of art has made a proud return to a town center after a long period of restoration. The ‘Man Aspires’ piece has been proudly installed in the new East Square development in Basildon.

The Man Aspires is one of Basildon’s oldest works of art, previously on display in the town center until its temporary removal. The sculpture was created from wire and aluminum and designed by sculptor AJ Poole.

In February 2019 it was carefully removed and safely stored to allow for the downtown redesign to make way for the new 10-screen Empire Cinema in East Square. Before that, he had stood on the wall of the now-demolished Freedom House on East Walk since it was installed in 1957.

Read more:The latest news from the Borough of Basildon

Towards the end of its lifespan on Freedom House, rubbish had built up inside the base of the sculpture, with birds evidently having nested inside at various stages of the year.

Now, however, Man Aspires has had a facelift and is attached to the new Empire Cinema building. A spokesman for Basildon Council said: “He was removed from his original home in 2019 and stored safely during the construction of a brand new 10-screen cinema in East Square.



The ‘Man Aspires’ sculpture on the wall of Freedom House in East Walk, Basildon before being removed in 2019

“With exterior construction on the site now complete, Man Aspires was reinstated overlooking the square on 13 May 2022. One of Basildon’s oldest works of art, Man Aspires was designed by sculptor AJ Poole and created at made from wire and aluminum. While in storage, Man Aspires has been cleaned to ensure longevity.”

The Empire Cinema is set to open later this year, with the first CGI images of the interior unveiled in late 2021. One of these restaurants was announced as Loungers earlier this year, which operates Lounge and Cozy Club venues across the UK. .

The cinema itself is set to house Essex’s largest screen, seating up to 500 spectators. It will also become Basildon’s second cinema, accompanying the Cineworld based at Festival Leisure Park.