ROYAL Bank of Scotland bosses have been urged to put a statue back on public display after it disappeared from the shopping centre where it has stood for almost 50 years.

Cornish-based artist Barbara Hepworth's Rock Form (Porthcurno) is jointly owned by RBS and an investment firm Delancey, which owns the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton where the statue has resided since it opened in 1968. It is one of only a handful of the casts created, with another on display at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and others on show in Boston and Philadelphia in the US.

The Edinburgh-based bank yesterday said the statue had only been removed to allow redevelopment work at the shopping centre to go ahead and no decision had been taken over its future.

Turner Prize-winning sculptor Antony Gormley, who created the Angel of the North near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, has added his voice to the campaign to save the local landmark. More than 500 people have signed an online petition which was launched last week calling on RBS to return the statue, which campaigners fear could be sold off for millions.

Mr Gormley said the statue should "continue to give joy" to those who use the shopping centre. He added: "It is clear the work was made and sold at cost price by the artist in order for it to be shown and enjoyed collectively by the people of Wolverhampton. It was made for this site."

An RBS spokeswoman said: "It has simply been removed pending a major redevelopment of the shopping centre. However, RBS and the owners of the shopping centre are collectively looking at options which will allow the statue to continue to be enjoyed by the local community."