Tribute to Barry Hines: Billy and Kes Sculpture in Hoyland Common

The “Billy and Kes” sculpture is located in Hoyland Common, the hometown of celebrated author Barry Hines. Situated across from his former residence, now adorned with a commemorative blue plaque, this statue has become a new focal point in the village.

The sculpture, inspired by Hines’ seminal work, “A Kestrel for a Knave” (1968) and its subsequent film adaptation “Kes” (1969) directed by Ken Loach, captures the poignant relationship between a young boy Billy and his kestrel, Kes. This piece of art immortalises the moment when Billy, with unwavering focus and passion, releases Kes into the sky—a powerful symbol of freedom and escape for both of them.

Barry Hines’ evocative writing beautifully portrays the natural landscape surrounding his home town of Hoyland Common. This can be seen in his poetic descriptions of place as exemplified in this passage from “A Kestrel for a Knave”:

“A cushion of mist lay over the fields. Dew drenched the grass, and the occasional sparkling of individual drops made Billy glance down as he passed. One tuft was a silver fire. The drop had almost forced the blade of grass to the earth, and it lay in the curve of the blade like the tiny egg of a mythical bird. Billy moved his head from side to side to make it sparkle, and when it caught the sun it exploded, throwing out silver needles and crystal splinters. He lowered his head and slowly, very carefully, touched it with the tip of his tongue. The drop quivered like mercury, but held. He bent, and touched it again. It disintegrated and streamed down the channel of the blade to the earth. Slowly the blade began to straighten, climbing steadily like the finger of a clock.”

Barry Hines, a quintessential working-class writer from Barnsley, eloquently chronicled social injustices through his works. His novels, including “The Gamekeeper,” “Looks and Smiles,” and the hauntingly prescient “Threads,” explore themes ranging from the failures of the education system and the lack of opportunities, to the devastating impacts of Thatcherism and the pervasive fear of nuclear war in the 1980s.

The “Billy and Kes” sculpture not only honors Hines’ literary contributions but also offers a serene spot for reflection. Visitors can sit on a nearby bench, listen to the birds, and take in the beauty of the surrounding trees. The sculpture, with Billy and Kes poised as if eternally connected, seamlessly integrates into the green space, offering both a tribute to the past and a place of peace for the present.

A mini replica of the sculpture is available from my store on this website.


Commission: Discover Dearne
Place: Hoyland Common
Year: 2024