When Emu visited and Gary took a walk on the weird side

Gary Marshall
Gary Marshall

People have done some strange things in the name of art.

In 1999 Tracey Emin didn’t make her bed and then exhibited it in the Tate Gallery; in 2011 Marni Kotak gave birth to her son in New York’s Microscope Gallery in front of a gaggle of art lovers.

Rod Huill and Emu

Rod Huill and Emu

And in 1996 Gary Marshall covered himself in chalk and took a stroll through Crawley town centre.

The sculptor, who was 23 and from Pound Hill, left his mother’s home in Three Bridges and walked to Queens Square, dressed only in a pair of pants, his body and hair layered with chalk.

The artist told the Observer at the time: “The whole idea behind my work is to do with perception and how you communicate through symbols.

“I got a lot of comments from people, ranging from ‘look at that nutter’ to one young lad who said ‘it’s all about patience isn’t it.”

Crawley Lifesavers in 1996

Crawley Lifesavers in 1996

Another unusual sight in Crawley in 1996 was called Emu – and wherever he went, children’s entertainer Rod Hull was sure to be on hand.

The mischievous puppet was one of the stars who popped in to County Mall to help celebrate the shopping centre’s first Sunday opening day.

Manager Andrew Bauer had high hopes the idea would put Crawley on the map for Sunday trading.

Another bunch to put Crawley on the map were the town’s lifesavers, who proved themselves to be among the best in the world by winning a mammoth endurance test.

Flooding in 1996

Flooding in 1996

The four-man team of Gary Lee, then 37, Warren Hall, then 21, Steven Potten, then 31 and Geoff Goodwin, then 27, won The Kings Race in Devon.

The Kings Race is a gruelling relay race, which includes a one-mile beach run, two-mile ski paddle, yet more running, a surfboard paddle and then a one-mile swim to the finish line.

Lifesaving Club manager, Gary, said: “We’re very pleased with the win as this was the first we’ve entered the competition. We were fortunate that the sea was kind to us, it was fairly flat, we were lucky with the conditions.”

And finally, a burst water main put the dampeners on an otherwise gloriously sunny day.

While it would no doubt have been pleasant to cool off with a quick paddle in the flood, sweltering workers instead saw Fleming Way and Manor Royal cordoned off while the pipe was fixed.

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