One of Oxfordâ€™s most bizarre and controversial works of art â€” and itâ€™s hitting the headlines once again.The Headington Shark has been nominated as an Icon of England on the website icons.org.uk The 25ft shark, lowered on to the roof of radio presenter Bill Heineâ€™s home in 1986, is competing with national treasures like Stonehenge, Coronation Street and the original Cowley-built Mini to make the final list.People across the county have been voting for the icons, which will be whittled down to a final list of 100.
The nomination was welcomed by Mohammed Altaf-Khan, Oxfordshire county councillor for Headington, who described the shark as a â€œsignificant attractionâ€.He said: â€œI know that a lot of people now come to Headington just to see the shark, which has got to be good for the area.â€œIt doesnâ€™t really disturb the residents living nearby and has now become an important part of the area.â€œI would certainly say it is an iconic piece of work.â€The shark has divided opinion since it first appeared 23 years ago.Mr Heine did not have planning permission for the sculpture â€” said to be a call for nuclear disarmament â€” at the time and he had to battle over several years to keep it .In June 1991, Oxford City Council threatened to remove it by force â€“ prompting Mr Heine to take the issue to a public inquiry.His appeal for planning permission was later granted by Michael Heseltine.
The shark was nominated for icon status by Alison Lister.She said: â€œThe shark lands on a sweet English terraced house in a neat Oxford street. What a poignant, modern war poem.â€œCommissioned as a protest against nuclear war, it reminds us of the impact of all wars on ordinary families: horror that cannot possibly be anticipated.â€œI love everything about this sculpture, including the furore about its very existence.â€œFew pieces of art have provoked a greater outcry or public debate than this one. It gets ordinary people talking about art and philosophy. It deserves to be hailed as an English icon.â€However, the shark didnâ€™t appeal to everyone on the site.One commentator, called Nick, said: â€œThe creator of this piece of â€˜artâ€™ has certainly profited by its existence.