Marsh Awards

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

We have pleasure in announcing the winners of The Marsh Awards 2014.

The Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture is Richard Wilson RA for Slipstream

The Marsh Award for Excellence in Conservation of a Public Sculpture is Rupert Harris Conservation for Prince Consort statue

The Marsh Award for Excellence in Conservation of a Public Fountain is JN Bentley for Bramham Park Parterre Garden cascade

We also awarded Highly Commended in sculpture to Martin Jennings for Charles Dickens, and to Studio Weave for Lullaby Factory

Before each presentation was made, Brian Marsh OBE, of the Marsh Christian Trust, read out a citation for each award.


The Duke of Gloucester with Richard Wilson RA

Slipstream by Richard Wilson RA
The commission for the sculpture installed at Queen’s Terminal – Terminal 2- at London’s Heathrow Airport started in 2010 when London Heathrow Airport Ltd invited Futurecity to discuss ideas to enliven an atrium the size of the Tate Modern turbine hall. There was already the objective to attract a new audience for contemporary art – in an airport terminal handling 20 million passengers as well as meeters and greeters in this voluminous public space.

Richard Wilson RA and his team were selected in December 2010 from five international artists, proposing a sculpture that followed the form of an aerobatic monoplane made famous in the Red Bull air race. Richard Wilson evolved the design through a large number of models and drawings, some of which were displayed earlier this year at The Royal British Society of Sculptors in South Kensington.

Richard Wilson encouraged a collaborative process between himself, the fabricator CSi and Price & Myers the structural engineers – the shape and mass of the sculpture demanded it. Futurecity remained as curators for the installation.

The escalators in the Covered Court in Terminal 2 allow an ever changing view of Slipstream exploiting the twisting, tumbling form of the aerobatic barrel rolling mission.

Its placing in the building, right alongside the escalators, indicates that one of its roles is to distract harassed passengers going in and out of T2. The space that it occupies is a vast atrium between external transport systems and the functioning part of the terminal, so that distraction is entirely in order –the assessors agreed that it transformed the idea of entering an airport terminal.

That its appearance and shape appear to change radically with only a slight shift of angle is presumably in the manner of a machine barrelling its way through space in spectacular manoeuvres. It seems to be doing just this, as shown in the models; as one travels up and down it twists and turns in space and even changes colour. Enormous attention has evidently been paid to the surface: it contains extraordinary details of colour and even variations in texture.

Thematically, in scale and with its illusion of constant motion Slipstream is absolutely appropriate to - and inseparable from - its site. It brings a huge touch of class, not previously experienced at Heathrow, to the new terminal and does so with immense confidence. Like all Wilson’s work it challenges preconceptions (can sculpture really be this large?); pushes the boundaries of the nature of sculpture, is totally original and is calculated to the last screw; it is a magnificent piece of public art.

The assessor team were unanimous in their selection of Slipstream for its siting, the boldness of form and the quality of its fabrication.


The Duke of Gloucester with Rupert Harris

Rupert Harris Conservation for the Prince Consort Statue
The equestrian statue of the Prince Consort was for many years blighted by its location at the centre of the Holborn Circus roundabout in central London, which made it well-nigh impossible to appreciate properly and put it in constant danger of damage from traffic accidents. Its traffic island had been reduced in size and it had lost its function as a refuge for pedestrians crossing the intersection. Latterly it also suffered because of the street furniture clustered close to it. All in all, it was easy to ignore it as a piece of public sculpture.

Besides this, maintenance regimes had come and gone, with the result that the statue was covered in a thick layer of black paint, wax and dirt.

The redesign of the Holborn Circus intersection by the City of London Corporation, Camden Council and Transport for London has provided the opportunity to move the Prince Consort statute to a better location and, in the process, carry out long-deferred conservation work. It has been moved just 20 metres west but the benefit in terms of physical security and the opportunity to better appreciate the piece is well worthwhile.

The conservation work is splendid. It has revealed the beauty and fine detailing of Charles Bacon’s original work. Following the conservation and repatination, the surface finish is glossy, sleek and impressive. The plinth has been cleaned and carefully reassembled.

The brief in judging the conservation award nominations is to assess the conservation work not the original work of art, but it is fair to say that the high quality of this piece can now be properly appreciated. This project has given a more dignified setting for one of London’s civic sculptures which has perhaps been taken for granted for many years.

The project is part of a wider initiative by the City Corporation for the care and monitoring of its collection of public sculpture. Their stewardship and commitment to ongoing maintenance is exemplary. Rupert Harris Conservation has provided expert advice on this initiative and carried out the conservation treatment on the Prince Consort statue and its plinth.

The 2014 Marsh Award for Excellence in the Conservation of Public Sculpture goes to Rupert Harris Conservation for the Prince Consort Statue.



The Duke of Gloucester with Mark Dolphin and John Gath of JN Bentley

JN Bentley for the Bramham Park Parterre Garden cascade
Bramham Park, in West Yorkshire, is one of the most important English landscape gardens of the eighteenth century. Water was a crucial element in its design. Pools, canals and cascades were integrated with the sober geometry of long grassed alleys bounded by beech hedges with beech woods beyond. Stone urns and statues provided punctuation and a later generation added temples and garden buildings.

When the grounds were laid out, the Parterre Garden cascade was the principal element of the view from the west front of the house. However, its heyday was shortlived. Owing to problems with the water supply early on, the cascade was decommissioned and the reservoir pool and thirty-step channel that had fed it were filled in and grassed over. For two and a half centuries, only the masonry of the cascade and the parterre terrace walls were visible. The result was enigmatic but frankly unsatisfactory.

The project completed last year has restored the cascade as a functioning water feature and recreated the pool into which it pours. The work involved dismantling the surviving structure and laying a new water supply, piped from a spring-fed reservoir elsewhere in the park. The stonework was carefully reconstructed and, where necessary, heavily weathered or damaged stones were replaced. At the same time, the retaining wall has been strengthened behind its fine ashlar masonry. Here too, some stone replacement was necessary where the facing blocks and pilasters had gone.

The conservation of the surviving parts of the Cascade and its restoration as a working water feature is a key element in the wider campaign of investment at Bramham Park. The owners of the estate, the Lane-Fox family, have led this enthusiastically and have followed good conservation practice in the way they have planned the project. In this they have been well advised and supported by Durham University Archaeological services, Wessex Archaeology and Rodney Melville + Partners, amongst others. The work has been carried out to a high standard by JN Bentley Ltd.

Their project has transformed the view from the garden front of the house and brings to life an area of the garden which has for so long lacked its intended highlight. The 2014 Marsh Award for Excellence in Fountains goes to JN Bentley for the Parterre Garden cascade at Bramham Park.


The Duke of Gloucester with Martin Jennings

Martin Jennings for Charles Dickens. Highly Commended.
The statue, unveiled in February this year depicts the author seated with a book in hand and another stack of his books by his side. The sculpture was installed two years late for the worldwide celebrations in 2012 for the bicentenary of Dickens' birth, and 110 years after a statue of him for Portsmouth was first proposed.

In an interview with The Guardian the sculptor, Martin Jennings, said of the statue's pose: "I wanted to suggest he is about to jump to his feet and begin one of the readings of Oliver Twist that had people weeping and fainting in the aisles."

Although there are Dickens statues overseas, including in Philadelphia and Sydney, this is the first full-sized statue of the writer in Britain. The delay was partly because after Dickens' death, in 1870 at the age of 58 – exhaustion a factor, from his relentless work rate – his will was found to state that he wanted "no monument, memorial or testimonial".

The assessors are particularly impressed by the design of the drapery and the relationship of the stack of books to the design as a whole, responding to Drury’s great Queen Victoria Memorial facing Dickens across Guildhall Square.

Although not an out-right winner, the assessors wanted to particularly commend this fine example of figurative sculpture.


The Duke of Gloucester with Studio Weave

Studio Weave for Lullaby Factory. Highly Commended.
The most impressive thing about Lullaby Factory is it is that it is a clever, inventive and delightful piece in an awkward, inaccessible and otherwise wasted space. It uses a space which the people using the building can see when they are going from one place to another. The accessibility issue though was for the Marsh Award assessors an ethical conundrum.

The slightly hidden siting (normally it can only be seen it from the cafe and a corridor) makes it seem mysterious and intriguing, and offers a whole range of views from different parts of the building. One of our assessors spoke to some staff who said that they were concerned that something that had been provided for the patients and their families was too popular with other visitors to make it safe to open.

Studio Weave has constructed a network of listening pipes in a back courtyard of Great Ormond Street Hospital to create a secret factory of lullabies for children. The enclosed space was created by the construction of a new building at the historic children's hospital and will remain until its neighbour is eventually demolished. The architects were inspired by the messy pipes and drainage systems that already cover the surface of the brick walls. Instead of covering them up, they chose to add to them with a wide-spanning framework of pipes and horns. Different types of metal create pipes of silver, gold and bronze, and some of the taps and gauges were recycled from a decommissioned hospital boiler house. Sound artist Jessica Curry composed the soundtrack of lullabies, which are played out through each of the pipes. To listen in, patients and staff can place an ear over one of the listening pipes beside the canteen. The music is also transmitted via a radio frequency, so patients on the wards can tune in too.

Although on the edge of our key criteria of public access, Lullaby Factory is unique and so inventive that the assessors voted it Highly Commended.


Chairman’s welcome address.
Marsh Awards for Excellence in Public Sculpture, Fountain of the Year and Excellence in Conservation 2014.

Your Royal Highness, My lord, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure as this year’s chairman of the Marsh Awards on behalf of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association to welcome you to this ceremony for the 2014 Marsh Awards for Excellence in Public Sculpture, Excellence in new or restored Fountains and Excellence in the Conservation of a Public Monument.

I would like to welcome The Lord Crathorne KCVO, Vice President of PMSA, and Professor Brian Falconbridge PPRBS, our external invigilator, both of whom will speak later.

I would like to thank Grosvenor for their generous provision of the Board Room and this space for the presentation tonight. We hope that you will all stay after the presentation of the awards for conversation and refreshments.

I want to thank the Marsh Christian Trust for their continuing support for these awards. The Marsh Christian Trust was established by Brian Marsh OBE in 1981. The Trust is a charitable body that provides long-term core funding to registered charities in their chosen field of work, with a particular emphasis on social welfare, environmental causes, literature, arts & heritage and education and training.

These Marsh Awards are just some of the 65 Awards the Trust runs in partnership with charitable organisations. In this case these Awards recognise artists and craftsmen for excellence in public contemporary sculpture, fountains and the conservation of historical works, which engage the public and encourage awareness of Britain's monumental heritage - past, present and future.

The core factor for these awards is excellence: excellence in concept, design, siting, execution and access in the public domain. The panels of assessors respond to a set of criteria, reducing a long list of submissions to a short list of finalists, all of which are visited. As chairman of all the award categories I can report on the very high standard of entries. It is not often that the selection panels for all the awards found it so challenging to arrive at the winners.

I would now like to introduce Professor Brian Falconbridge our external invigilator. Brian is a sculptor and academic, active in higher education and arts-related organisations for 40 years. He graduated from Goldsmiths in 1973 progressing to the Slade under Reg Butler before returning to teach sculpture at Goldsmiths finishing up as Head of Visual Arts there. President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors from 2004-9 and Dean of the Sir John Cass until 2010 and the British Taiwan Panel until last year where his work is revered he continues his own sculpture practice as well as advisory and mentoring roles, not least to us.

Address by Prof. Brian Falconbridge, PPRBS.

Those who have heard me speak before at these events will perhaps recall that I always say I will try to be brief but that I can not absolutely guarantee I will be. Nor can I guarantee that I will not touch on one or two items cited on previous occasions. Nevertheless I will try to make one or two further observations as emerging from the works commended.

My role in the process of conferring these awards is that of External Invigilator or External Advisor. I am a critical friend tasked to aid discussion and decision-making in order that disciplinary excellence may be appropriately assessed and acknowledged.

This recognition of excellence should be seen as beingboth for its own sake and also for the guidance of others, so that outstanding exemplars may be identified and celebrated and thereby encourage the continuous raising of standards by all who contribute to those designated fields be they artist practitioners or commissioning bodies or their agents. I think the evidence begins to confirm that.

Forgive me if I lapse lightly into Quality Assurance-speak, and before I go further, I am pleased to report that the criteria for assessment, the identification of issues and attributes deemed necessary for assessment, these criteria have undergone a thorough overhaul and are more detailed and rigorous than ever. The ensuing scrutiny and debate by the panel of assessors achieves informed judgement but is tempered, as always, by generosity of spirit. One expects nothing less.

In the past I have reaffirmed the role of sculpture as an enduring form of cultural expression through the ages. I have also made reference to ever-expanding versions or interpretations of how sculpture may or may not be understood in this, the age of the digital and of transience of image and idea and much else besides. I do not propose to retrace my steps on that front this evening but let us be clear about what is being assessed. As regards guiding definitions, I assert that sculpture is the creative penetration of space via the medium of the plastic, to achieve the conveyance of conceptual aesthetic content. Implicit within the creative is originality, implicit within the plastic is command of the materiality.

On the other hand, public sculpture especially that intended to be permanent, public sculpture is required to negotiate multiple additional conditions. In no particular order, these include scale and location within the fixed physical context, indeed including the chosen physical context and site itself, the selection of materials, the method of fabrication, durability (physical as well as conceptual), presentation, and of course purpose. If these variables are met satisfactorily then one hopes that critical and popular acclaim will follow, and that the work will take on the additional quality of seeming inevitable. I use the term here in a positive cast. In other words, the work having been installed, it is perceived as having an absolute rightness both in terms of in itself and in its setting, and that its absence - if imagined - would create an unwelcome vacuum or sense of loss or deficiency. It is these additional conditions of wider issues of inevitability, rightness and potential loss within the complete context – as vital attributes - that I advance this evening.

I will now move on to the works we are here to commend – all of which contain in full measure the positive attributes I have cited. I am delighted that we are able to recognise the figurative and the non-figurative, and the historic into the contemporary across the board, including J. N. Bentley’s spectacular restoration of the Bramham Park Parterre pond stepped cascade (no small undertaking after 300 years of neglect), the wonderful restoration and conservation by Rupert Harris of the equestrian sculpture by Charles Bacon from 1874 of the Prince Consort – complete with replacement sword - on his horse “Nimrod” in Holborn Circus, and the extraordinarily imaginative and inventive work of building-hugging-sonic-plumbing-sculpture that is Lullaby Factory at Great Ormond Street Hospital by Studio Weave.

Richard Wilson’s ‘Slipstream’ is a tour de force of dynamic monumental sculpture sited in an interior public space. If Antony Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North’ bears comparison with Landowski’s ‘Cristo Redentor’, ‘Christ the Redeemer’, overlooking Rio de Janeiro then I am tempted to compare ‘Slipstream’ with the monumental Reclining Buddha in the temple of the same name at Wat Pho in Bangkok. This is an enormous gilded sculpture of the horizontal Buddha at ease in contemplation. I first chanced upon this extraordinary object some 20 odd years ago when I glanced through the temple window and saw the soles of a massive pair of golden feet, heels down with their toes in the air. When I entered the temple to gain a better view of just what these feet were attached to, it felt to me as if I were suddenly meeting a figure resembling a 747 jumbo jet (a thematic connection) with its wings tightly folded to enable it to squeeze into a room barely big enough to contain it. But where the Buddha conveys stillness, “Slipstream’ conveys velocity and acrobatic flux. And whereas the Buddha is a ‘mere’ 45 metres long, ‘Slipstream’ extends half as much again to fully 78 metres.

The Dickens by Martin Jennings is the first public sculpture in the UK in commemoration of the man. We know the embargo placed by Dickens himself on any such work, perhaps partly for fear of being depicted in overblown classical grandiosity. He comes home to Portsmouth and we hope he would approve of this version, reflective, with his mass of writings to hand, and in every sense, close to the people.

Before I conclude, I can not resist mentioning that Dickens is also placed within the gaze – the rather stern gaze - of his Queen, Victoria, the sculptor of which being none other than an earlier Drury, namely Alfred Drury R.A. and a perfect link as I hand  back to our present day Drury. I thank the Marsh Christian Trust. I thank the Panel members. I congratulate those receiving awards and I thank you for your kind attention.

Professor Brian Falconbridge PPRBS
Grosvenor
6th November 2014
© The text is the copyright and intellectual property of Prof. Brian Falconbridge.

THE PUBLIC MONUMENTS AND SCULPTURE ASSOCIATION
announces the Shortlists for THE MARSH AWARDS 2014

An annual competition since 2005 The Marsh Awards are offered by The PMSA and Award sponsors, The Marsh Christian Trust.

The Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture is offered for a sculpture installed in a public place within the last two years. This award acknowledges and commends excellence, increases awareness and discussion of public sculpture and celebrates new work that demonstrates originality, aesthetic quality and sensitivity to its site.

SHORTLIST FOR THE MARSH AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SCULPTURE

North Gate Bus Station, Northampton, Catherine Bertola, Gudrun Haraldsdottir & Fiona Heron FRSA MSc MA CMLI
Charles Dickens, Martin Jennings FRBS
Danum, Michael Johnson
The ArcelorMittal Orbit, Sir Anish Kapoor RA
The Windsor Greys, Robert Rattray GCGI
The Kelpies, Andy Scott ARBS
Wind Sculpture, Yinka Shonibare MBE, RA
Alfred Russel Wallace, Anthony Smith MA, ARBS, FLS
Lullaby Factory, Studio Weave
Slipstream, Richard Wilson RA
MK Rose, Gordon Young

The Marsh Award for Excellence in Conservation of a Public Sculpture is offered for the conservation treatment or repair of an existing work in a public place within the last two years. This conservation award commends craft and professional skills, reflecting a core activity of the PMSA and an essential aspect of guardianship.

The Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Fountains is offered for a fountain installed in a public place within the last 5 years. This award can be for a new work or for an outstanding conservation project.

SHORTLIST FOR THE MARSH AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CONSERVATION OF A PUBLIC SCULPTURE OR FOUNTAIN

Bramham Park Estate – JN Bentley
Knife Edge Two Piece 1962-65 – Rupert Harris Conservation
The Blackamoor – Hall Conservation Ltd
Prince Consort Monument – Rupert Harris Conservation
Knill’s Monument – McNeilage Conservation

Winners will be announced on 6 November 2014.

Images are the copyright of the PMSA.


North Gate Bus Station


Charles Dickens


Danum


The ArcelorMittal Orbit


The Windsor Greys


The Kelpies


Wind Sculpture


Alfred Russel Wallace


Lullaby Factory


Slipstream


MK Rose


Bramham Park


Knife Edge Two Piece 1962-65


The Blackamoor


Prince Consort Monument


Knill's Monument