PMSA'S MARSH AWARDS The 2017 Shortlist for Excellence in Public Sculpture
1. JILL BERELOWITZ
Born into a medical family in Johannesburg, Jill Berelowitz studied sculpture first under the Finnish artist, Karen Jarozynska and then at the Johannesburg School of Art. After graduation she set up a studio in Durban. Since moving to London 31 years ago, she has made a name for herself as an innovative sculptor known for her work with bronze and optical resin. Her work focuses on the human form and regeneration.
Berelowitz has exhibited at Sotheby’s, Heathrow Terminal 5, Cork Street and the RHS Chelsea. Her public sculptures include Diving Girl, which was installed at the entrance to the Olympic Village for the London 2012 Summer Olympics and the permanent installation Core Femme outside the Charing Cross Hospital. The latter is an organic composition reminiscent of a backbone where individual torsos become vertebrae. A major commission for Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, His Mind’s Eye Tree was unveiled at Stratford-upon-Avon in Summer 2016 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death and is the focal point of a new heritage landmark. Her temporary installation, Moving Forward is currently opposite the Dorchester Hotel and 45 Park Lane in London.
Artist’s commentary: His Mind’s Eye Treewill live on for eternity to celebrate Shakespeare at New Place his family home. Cast in bronze, at Morris Singer Foundry,in honour of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616.
Although drawn from the life, it is not counterfeiting its natural source, but dignifying its gesture by representing it as a brazen monument. The sweeping Mind’s Eye Tree in the contemporary setting of New Place, reflects Shakespeare’s enormous power and irresistible force. Even though it is enormous at 4.5m. windblown to 5.5m., the roots are exposed, but still anchor it to the earth.
The bark of the tree trunk has the distinctive texture of the aged hawthorn which evolves into the main boughs leaning over the Cosmic sphere, dark on the far side, polished by Shakespeare’s energy on the near, the metaphorical force of his writing that bends before the gale of his creative power. The tree tapers to the thinner branches to create twisted dance-like rhythms, spreading to the delicate feather branches around the edges. 200 gold leaves are scattered on the higher bare branches left over from the Autumn.
The design of Cosmic Sphere was conceived to honour Sheakespeare’s unique insight and the enduring power of his words. The sphere, massive and elemental, is miraculously bright on the half facing towards him, reflecting his lambent vision, whilst the reverse is in deepest shadow still rough and pitted like an asteroid. This is conceptual rather than natural and represents the unquenchable light of genius. Were Shakespeare’s light to go out, it would be an inert mass of no significance. This sphere signifies him, us, all people. Again the power of Shakespeare’s thought seems to have cleansed the dirty sphere: scraping past the darker, rougher, outer layer of ourselves and allowing us literally to reflect on our humanity.
In one direction, Shakespeare looks back down the Long Garden over the golden fruits of his life. In another, turning to his right, he reflects on his materials and his inspiration. These are humanity, represented by the visitors, and nature in the form of a bronze tree.
2. PAUL DAY
Paul Day has developed a highly personal approach to figurative sculpture and particularly favours portraying narratives using deep bas-relief and fully three-dimensional techniques.
Having studied at Colchester Institute and Dartington College of Arts respectively, Day turned to sculpture at Cheltenham School of Fine Art. After graduating in 1991, he embarked on a career as a professional sculptor aided by a grant from the Prince of Wales Business Trust. Day held his first solo show at Cheltenham’s Museum and Art Gallery a year later. Following a move to France, he began to exhibit there and internationally in Belgium, Germany and the UK.
In 2000, Day created a relief frieze for the Brussels City Parliament. He then worked on a two year project, Brussels – an Urban Comedy, for the city’s shopping arcade, Royal Galleries of St. Hubert. This is a monumental frieze encapsulating the spirit of the capital; its politics, history and culture.
In Britain, Day’s first major public commission was the the bronze and granite memorial to the Battle of Britain on the Victoria Embankment, London, unveiled in 2005, for which he received a Civic Trust Award. He was also commissioned by London and Continental Railways to make a flagship sculpture for St Pancras International Station. This large bronze sculptural group, The Meeting Place (2007), caused much debate at its launch and has divided journalistic opinion, although it has been widely appreciated by the general public.
Day, who lives and works in France, has sculpture in museum collections throughout the world. The Times art critic, John Russell Taylor, is currently writing a book on his work.
Artist’s commentary: The Iraq & Afghanistan Wars Memorial was commissioned by a trust set up under the chairmanship of Lord Stirrup. The planning application was project managed by Atkins Global and overseen by Donald Insall Associates. Day collaborated with Paye Stone and HVH Foundry to bring the project to completion.
The monument was made in recognition of the duty and service given by members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as well as civilian personnel, who worked with the department for International Development (DFID), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and all non-governmental organisations engaged in the both theatres in the Gulf region. The monument consists of a two-sided bronze relief medallion locked between two partially dressed Portland stone blocks. One side of the medallion represents military operations while the other explores the contribution from civilian workers to the reconstruction of both countries in terms of health, governance, infrastructure and aid.
3. RODNEY HARRIS MRBS AND VALDA JACKSON
Rodney Harris is both a sculptor and a printmaker. He studied for his BA Hons. in Ceramics at Bristol and graduated with an MA in Ceramics from Cardiff in 1990.
He has received commissions from a range of public and private organisations. These include Wallpaper and Sofas, 2013, a 70m. long brick relief for the Bicester Public Art Project in Oxfordshire; Giant Brick Sphere, 2008-9, which was commissioned by Gedling Borough Council, Nottingham, to celebrate the opening of a new community centre and developed in close consultation with the local community; Outdoor Classroom, a public sculpture commission from Notre Dame High School in Norwich, Norfolk and LSIArchitects Ltd. which is a relief comprising a pair of upholstered brick chesterfield sofas and Three-Piece-Suite, which was commissioned by Thanet Borough Council’s Department of Regeneration and Development for Ramsgate in Kent. The latter was shortlisted for the Rouse Kent Public Art Award 2001.
Harris has shown work in the World Ceramic Biennale, South Korea, the Latvia International Ceramics Biennale and the Turkish International Terracotta Symposium. He has been a Trustee of Spike Island Bristol, is currently a Director of Spike Print Studio, member of Bristol University Earth Sciences Arts Council and is on the Advisory Board for Knowle West Children’s Centre. He was the Leverhulme Artist in Residence at Bristol University 2015.
Harris has a long-term collaboration with Valda Jackson and they have been commissioned by Newport City Council, Bristol City Council and Peabody. His recent work engages with strong environmental and social themes.
Valda Jackson was born in Blue Mountains, Jamaica and came to England at the age of five to join her parents and settle in Birmingham. She studied for a BA Hons. in Fine Art at Bristol and then for a post-graduate diploma in Fine Art at Cardiff. In her work Jackson explores a history shared by many migrants and themes relating to dislocation and identity. She employs memory fragments and historical truths to recall and re-imagine the past, questioning our present, and perhaps impacting the future through the visual arts – painting and sculpture, and with her writing and performance. Her work reflects her experience of a Jamaican British heritage and growing up in a culture that sits, at times uncomfortably, within another that is larger, dominant and imperial. Jackson’s work is about existence – survival, individual entitlement, privilege, and above all, dignity. These themes extend to all of Jackson’s commissions and to projects with her long-term collaborator, Rodney Harris.
Her public sculptures include a life-size brick relief, Mare and Foal (1994) in Newmarket and a commission from the City Council in 2002 for the community hub of St Pauls Learning and Family Centre in Bristol. Entitled All Our Tomorrows, this brick carved bas relief celebrates the cultural diversity not only of St. Pauls, but also Bristol. In 2004 she and Rodney Harris collaborated on a 25’ long brick bas-relief, The Newport Castle, a Great Western Railway steam locomotive, for the Station Approach at Newport in South Wales. Their recent collaborations include a series of brick reliefs on the Peabody St. John’s Hill Estate in Wandsworth, London.
Jackson’s other recent projects include Literary Archaeology, a collaborative project with the University of Bristol Department of English, Bristol Writers and archaeologists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter. She is one of the contributors to Critical Decade: After the Black Arts Movement edited by Bristol University History of Art Department (publication forthcoming).
Valda Jackson’s commentary: I am concerned with identity, relationships and belonging. This is evident throughout my work, whether drawing and painting as part of my own studio practice, or making a sculpture commissioned by housing developers, or a city council. As a visual artist, who writes, I like to create narratives in the work and this also comes into play within my collaborations.
In the Mare and Foal made in 1994, when my own first-born was just six months old, the bodies of the mare and foal overlap. Physically and emotionally linked, they are bonded together as one small unit – a family. Similarly, in composing the image for the girls’ pinafores, my preoccupation was the possible narratives that could be brought to bear on two separate items of clothing. Having studied the siting plan, I could not conceive of the possibility of giving each of these items its own individual space. For me, these representations of childhood, of innocence, must not float singularly and vulnerable in their own isolation on a wall. To each I gave the gift of the other. Each has ownership of the other within the world that they inhabit. In the positioning and placement of these garments, I create a visual narrative – to evoke the human spirit of the possible wearers. And the wearers of these pinafores, sisters, join hands. The elder, straight and steady, responsible for much of the little one’s care while parents work, she takes her sister’s hand in hers. And like the slender colt in Mare and Foalthat is bonded against the solid mass of his mother’s body, this younger child leans slightly towards her big sister in a gesture of unquestioning faith – in trust. This is just one moment, one narrative, from which I have drafted a short story.
The adult man’s Uniform, formal and bulky, was drawn from an original police uniform from a period when many people across the globe were in uniform, fighting wars, policing, patrolling, nursing. As with the pinafores, we borrowed the uniform from a hire company in Bristol, suppliers of authentic costumes for theatre and film. I try to consider the real people in their real lives, who once wore such garments, as individuals who are often long gone. I then attribute these garments with a quality of the individual…such as introducing the lowered right shoulder, a slightly crooked look, to acknowledge not only that singularity but a vulnerability of the human, whatever the uniform for whatever the job, and whatever the context.
4 & 5. MARTIN JENNINGS FRBS
Martin Jennings read English Literature at Oxford University before training as a calligrapher and letter-cutter at the City and Guilds of London Art School in 1980. He then served a part-time apprenticeship to Richard Kindersley in Kennington. After working briefly in Carrara, Italy, Jennings turned to figurative work and took a course at the Sir John Cass School of Art in Whitechapel. He now concentrates on portrait sculpture and public statues, often incorporating inscriptions. He has received commissions from many national institutions including the National Portrait Gallery, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the University of Oxford. His subjects are taken from the world of politics, the military, royalty, academia, industry, medicine, law and literature. Two of his bronze statues John Betjeman, 2007, at St. Pancras Station in London and Philip Larkin, 2010, at Hull Paragon Station have become celebrated landmarks. While his Charles Dickens, which he made for the author’s native city of Portsmouth, was the first full-size statue of the author in Britain and received an honourable mention at the PMSA’s Marsh Awards in 2014. Two statues by Jennings were installed in 2016. The first commemorated the ‘Women of Steel’, who worked in the armaments industry during WW2 and was sited in front of Sheffield City Hall. The second paid tribute to Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole and was positioned outside St Thomas’ Hospital in Central London. Jennings’ larger-than-lifesize sculpture of George Orwell for the exterior of BBC Broadcasting House, London will be unveiled on 7 November this year. He is currrently working on statues of John Radcliffe for Oxford and Stanley Baldwin for Bewdley, Worcestershire. All his bronze and silver sculptures are cast by Pangolin Editions. Martin Jennings lives and works in Oxford.
The monument portrays the pioneering nurse, Mary Seacole and is the first statue of a named black woman in Britain. Mary Jane Seacole, née Grant (1805-1881) was born in Jamaica, her father was a Scottish soldier, her mother, who was a Creole, ran a boarding house in Kingston. From the latter, who practised as a ‘doctress’, she gained the knowledge of herbal medicine and healing, which led to her own nursing career. Artist’s commentary.
Artist’s commentary: The statue represents both the cameraderie that helped these young women triumph over the exceptionally difficult task allotted to them and the pride they felt in achieving expertise in an industry that was traditionally the preserve of men. I have modelled a welder and a riveter to stand for the many roles required of them. They are jauntily marching along arm in arm with their heads held high. At the end of the war, the women were dismissed from their work in the steel industry with little thanks. Now, by erecting this statue within the lifetimes of the surviving Women of Steel, we all have an opportunity belatedly to record our gratitude. There are countless war memorials to men. My hope is that this statue will help us never to forget these women, without whose courageous endeavours victory in two World Wars would have been very far from assured.
6. ROB MULHOLLAND MRBS
Born in Glasgow, Rob Mulholland graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1986. Based in Scotland, he has exhibited work throughout the UK and internationally. His practise explores the complex relationship between humans and the natural world. Utilizing a wide variety of forms and materials, his sculpture installations interact with their surroundings. He incorporates mirrored surfaces in his sculptures to reflect the given environment and alter the viewer’s perception of the space. The reflection is purposely distorted inviting the viewer to question their individual relationship with their surroundings. Mulholland has further developed this nexus between people and the natural world in recent works such as One Flock, 2016, an installetion at Portsmouth, Virginia in the USA, which illuminates this symbiotic relationship.
He is interested in elements of deconstruction and has interpreted this with sculptures such as Skytower in galvanised steel, for the Forestry Commission in Scotland, and Evolve, a major commission, a 6m high landmark, for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Legacy Project, in which kinetic forces appear to have torn through and re-shaped the sculptural forms. These sculptures push the boundaries of physical structural engineering allowing him to explore and develop his practise further. Mulholland’s work is both gallery based and sited in public spaces.
Artist’s commentary: In 2015 I was commissioned to create a public sculpture to celebrate the redevelopment and regeneration of Oatlands, an area on Glasgow’s south side. This is one of the largest residential redevelopment sites in the UK and the artistic intervention required close collaboration with all the partners involved in the redevelopment.
During the selection interview I discussed the importance of asking local residents about their lives and memories of Oatlands. A series of digital photography workshops were established with the schools. Children were asked to photograph macro images of their surroundings and were then assisted to develop these images using Photoshop. The children gained valuable experience and an insight into the artistic process. These animated images, accompanied by a film score developed by the children, created an open air screening which was projected onto one of the apartment buildings in Oatlands. Collaboration with the community continued through regular discussions with the residents. They recounted stories about the area and identified landmarks that were important to the local people.
The final design was developed on Sketchup and a three dimensional animation produced. This allowed the steering group to see the proposed sculpture in situ. I also discussed the design with the local community, cementing a strong sense of engagement and community ownership of the sculpture.
Oatlands Girl was constructed in high grade 316L stainless steel, which is very durable and requires minimal maintenance. The whole sculpture is over four metres high and weighs over 2,500 kgs. The finished design reflects the future hopes for Oatlands, but at the same time pays tribute to its past heritage. The girl’s profile represents the youth and future of Oatlands. Pages float from her head, each one engraved with names of local places and memories recounted by the older residents. This image of a youth looking out towards the community symbolises the continued growth and aspirations for the future generations of Oatlands and was directly influenced by the children. Ten images created by the school children, were digitally engraved in stainless steel plate and mounted onto the wall behind the sculpture. These images act as a tangible link to the extensive artistic intervention and collaboration with the community. Oatlands Girl has become an established landmark, reinforcing community and civic pride in the area.
7. JEPHSON ROBB
Born in Glasgow, Jephson Robb read economics and economic history at the University of Glasgow. His sculptures often draw on economic ideas, a legacy of his education. He later studied design at the Royal College of Art, London, under Ron Arad. Robb’s tutor, Tord Boontje, commissioned his first piece of design art for the British Council’s touring exhibition of China. Since graduating in 2003, Robb has created landmark sculptures and installations across Scotland. His works have toured in international exhibitions and his wool sculpture, Cries and Whispers, is in the permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Robb received his first public commission from the Scottish Arts Council in 2005, Golden Age, a seven metre diameter disc of pure gold leaf applied to the ancient harbour of Pittenweem. In 2009 he created a major public art commission, a large scale broken chain link entitled Change in Clydebank, Scotland. Robb’s works push the boundaries of materials and processes; he has cast bronzes on a huge scale, polished stainless steel to a mirror finish and in Golden Age had gold leaf applied by hand to a large exterior concrete surface. Meticulous in his choice of materials, Robb combines the skills and concepts of a fine art practice with the technology of contemporary design. The result is a series of large-scale sophisticated works of art, which are often derived from some of the most basic geometric shapes. One of Robb’s most recent works include two sculptures commissioned by the NHS for the grounds of Glasgow’s Gartnavel Royal Hospital. For this 2015 commission, Two Hearts, he spent six weeks at the hospital to get a better understanding of mental health, which impacted on the metaphor of his final design being seen from more than one viewpoint. One of his more unusual public art projects Wonder for Edinburgh’s Portobello beach consisted of 15,000 sandbags filled by the local community. The artist then sent a seaside postcard to every Portobello resident. Robb has also continued his strong design interest and has collaborated with Bernhardt Design on many different projects, including the Amari chair.
Artist’s commentary: In researching the effects of asbestos I realised immediately the importance of this commission, both in terms of remembering all those who have suffered as a result of asbestos and in racing awareness of the dangers of asbestos. Clydebank Asbestos Group’s relentless fight for the victims of asbestos and their families convinced me that the memorial should be about Truth and Justice. I am therefore please that West Dunbartonshire Council agreed to name the public realm space Truth and Justice Square.
Made in stainless steel and taking its form from a perfect cube, a universally accepted symbol of truth, the memorial comprises five two-metre-high cuboid sections which are placed equidistant from each other and at 45 degrees to the edge of the site. The placement of the cuboid sections creates a dynamic visual effect whereby the memorial visually opens and closes when viewed from a passing vehicle or when walked around. This effect refers directly to the healthy function of the human lungs, which open on inhalation and close on exhalation. Inhalation of asbestos in the lungs is deadly, taking on average 40 years to end a life prematurely. The memorial acknowledges that time-span with the four spaces between the cuboids sections with each space marking a decade.
When viewed from either end the memorial appears as a single square section, viewed from off-centre the cuboid sections appear lined up one after the other as if descending into the past or stretching into the future; telling us that that the asbestos problems of the past continue to affect lives today, and will continue to do do long into the future. More and more people diagnosed with an asbestos related illness. Those known to have died from the effects of asbestos are represented by 533 names etched into the mirror-polished face of the memorial. The brushed-stainless steel surface of the memorial, without names, offers only a faint and unidentifiable ghostly reflection to represent those unknown.
Today, sadly, there are still many thousands of people across the developing world who are given misleading information about the dangers of working with asbestos. In recognition of this fact and as a reminder that there is still much work to be done to protect people from asbestos an area at the foot of the micro-polished face of the fifth cuboid was been left un-etched leaving the memorial incomplete which it will remain until a global ban on the mining and production of asbestos has been established in law and the fight for Truth and Justice has been won. Only then, with the addition of more names, will the memorial be complete.
8. LEE SIMMONS
Simmon first studied metalwork and silversmithing at Sheffield Hallam University from 2006-2009, and then in 2011 received an MA from the Royal College of Art in London. He currently lives and works at his Hertfordshire-based design studio. His practice reflects his theory of a synthesis that brings together, architecture, art and design. Simmons employs numerous skills and technologies to convey his ideas.
In 2012 he designed the winning trophy for The Ladbrokes St. Leger Stakes and has won numerous awards including the New Designers Award for the best graduate in show and many awards from the Goldsmiths’ Company.
Simmons’ grand door at 77 Wimpole Street, is inspired by the vermiculated Ashlar technique, the gate is cast in aluminum sections paying reference to the smoothness of modernity versus antiquated roughness. He is due to complete a piece of public art at 66 Wigmore Street which will act as a visual beacon and gateway to Marylebone Lane, bringing his artwork into the public realm by projecting from the atrium space of this new piece of architecture. One of his most dramatic commissions is for a screen on either side of the entrance of the Wellesley Hotel in London. Simmons’ Confession at the bench is in collection at The Royal College of Art, fabricated from Corten steel with perforated metal screens that create an effect reminiscent of a Catholic confessional box. He has won commissions from the Worshipful Company of Saddlers to design and create a silver lectern in celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen. Simmons is currently working on a number of high profile projects around the capital and will complete one of London’s largest pieces of public art at Marble Arch’s new development in 2018, which will act as a beacon and gateway into the west end of London.
Artist’s commentary: The Great War Memorial was completed in December 2016. It is constructed from 82 segments of Carrara marble to commemorate the 82 members of staff of Westminster City Council who lost their lives serving for the country in the Great War of 1914-1918. The marble was constructed by a marble factory in Italy, before being positioned into the circular stainless steel base engraved with each of the names of the staff members who lost their lives.
9. JULIAN WILD
Julian Wild graduated with a BA in Fine Art Sculpture from Kingston University in 1995. In 2005 he was shortlisted for the Jerwood Sculpture Prize and also won the Millfield Sculpture Prize that year. From 2009-12 he was the recipient of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Chelsea Arts Club Trust Studio Bursary, enabling him to live in a purpose built studio in Chelsea for three years. Wild was also a finalist for the National Art Prize at The Saatchi Gallery in 2010. He has exhibited in group exhibitions at The House of St.Barnabas, Fold Gallery, Sculpture in the City 2014, The Saatchi Gallery, Beyond Limits with Sothebys at Chatsworth House and the Irish Museum of Modern Art amongst others.
Wild has been commissioned to make numerous public artworks for the University of Oxford, Fidelity Investments, Millfield School, Cass Sculpture Foundation, Crest Nicholson, Jerwood Sculpture Park, Schroders, Radley College, Sculpture in the Parklands in Ireland and The Burghley House Preservation Trust. His public art works are often based on the history of the site and reference functional processes and systems.
Wild has held solo exhibitions at Burghley House ‘Incomplete Systems’ 2011, Bishops Square, Spitalfields ‘To Market, to Market’ (2012) Leighton House ‘Wrestling Pythons’, (2013) and Canary Wharf, ‘Stripping the Willow’ (2015). He has held two exhibitions at William Bennington Gallery, ‘The Island’ and ‘Make-Shift’, in which he showed work relating to his major public art work Origin in Oxford.
Wild received an Arts Council grant in 2010 to develop his project ‘Indeterminate forms and construction systems’. His other project ‘Making the Connection’ enables members of the public to engage with making a large scale sculpture with low tech materials.
Julian Wild is a director of Forum Arts and Vice-President of The Royal British Society of Sculptors. He lives and works in East Sussex.
Origin was commissioned by The University of Oxford for a section of their groundbreaking genetic research, The Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery. The centre comprises two buildings, the Target Discovery Institute and the newly built Big Data Institute. Both were designed by Make architects and the landscape master plan was devised by LDA Design. The project was funded by Sir Ka-shing Li, a Hong Kong philanthropist and businessman.
The brief required an artwork that worked with the landscaping and architecture that also referenced the use of the site. I became interested in the culture of the institute: specifically how ideas are shared and the need for collaboration between scientists. So I set about trying to create a proposal that celebrates innovation and also references the complexity of science. I wanted to make a work that alluded to the genesis of discovery. Visually, I wanted to create a work that was a landmark, synonymous with its environment.
Architectural in scale, Origin measures 12m in length and 6m in height. It comprises two separate cantilevered elements made from steel and stainless steel. These elements appear to be joined in an arch but are separate. The painted red ‘legs’ of the work are angled using complex compound mitred corner joints that give the piece an extra dynamic – as if it’s leaning.
The fractured elements towards the centre of the piece are made from cast and fabricated stainless steel. They are intended to represent data. The direction at which they are travelling is open to the viewer. The pixels become bent and distorted at the centre of the work- these elements are organic and refer to the body and the role the institute plays in healthcare.
I am also interested in the relationship between colour and sculpture. So this work is part of an on-going theme in which the base material is exposed from beneath the skin of colour. The American artist,Donald Judd, used the same red and I guess I am being playful with the idea of an exploded minimalist sculpture.
I am very grateful for the support and input from the various collaborators on the project but in particular Commissions Projects, Structuremode who designed the structural detail and ArcFab Sussex who fabricated and installed it.
Main image: Robb Mulholland’s shortlisted work, Oatlands Girl, Clyde Gateway, Oatlands, Glasgow, Scotland (photo: Ashley Coombes)