News Round-up

Fourth Plinth Winners announced

Important public art news is the exciting announcement of the two Fourth plinth artworks for 2018 and 2020. The first, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist by Michael Rakowitz, will encapsulate an important political message and form part of a project which he began working on in 2006, attempting to recreate over 7,000 archaeological artefacts looted from the Iraq Museum, Baghdad, during the war or destroyed in its aftermath. For the Fourth Plinth, Rakowitz will recreate the Lamassu, a winged bull and protective deity that guarded the entrance to Nergal Gate of Nineveh from 700BC, which was destroyed by ISIS together with other artefacts in the Mosul Museum in 2015. Created from empty Iraqi date syrup cans, the work will represent the once-renowned industry which has been decimated by the Iraq wars. This work will be unveiled in 2018.

Although at first sight less serious, THE END by Heather Phillipson, will portray a whirl of cream topped not just with a cherry, but also with a fly and a drone. Despite its nod to Pop art imagery, Phillipson’s work is underpinned by unsettling overtones of corruption and surveillance. The work will be unveiled in 2020. Ekow Eshun, Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group congratulating Rakowitz and Phillipson on winning the commission, commented ‘Their works are wondrous, striking and deeply engaging’.

First Female Monument for Parliament Square

A statue will be erected to the great suffragette leader, Millicent Fawcett, in Parliament Square, London, next year to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which first gave women the vote. Fawcett regarded the Pankhursts as her allies, but did not agree with violence and tenaciously continued her constitutional suffrage campaign after their militant one had faded away. Her statue has been commissioned from Turner prize winner, Gillian Wearing, and is the result of a campaign by the feminist activist, Caroline Criado-Perez, which has won the support of the Mayor of London and the backing of the government. This landmark monument to women’s emancipation, a lone female figure surrounded by 11 statues of politically influential men, will surely stand out in Parliament Square, making a powerful statement for the continuing need for equality of the sexes – even in commemoration.

Recently unveiled in the UK

A Rocky Gardener!

Laury Dizengremel’s bronze statue of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the eighteenth-century landcape designer, was unveiled at Hammersmith, London beside the River Thames on Wednesday 24 May to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show. England’s greatest landscape designer, he worked on more than 250 estates including Blenheim, Petworth and Chatsworth, and locally at Syon Park. The statue was paid for by a fundraising campaign led by the Hammersmith Society, which commissioned the monument to commemorate the anniversary of Brown’s birth in 1716 and it was located near Chancellor’s Road, where Brown lived for 13 years. Based on an oil painting by Richard Cosway dating to 1770-75, the bronze was cast in China and stood directly on the ground. A week after its unveiling, however, the statue had to be removed and sent to the Crucible Foundry in Fulham to have its base strengthened because it was wobbly and unstable.

And Two Monuments to Mining Disasters

Two monuments commemorating the work of miners were also unveiled in May. At Barnsley in South Yorkshire, as a result of the 150 Years’ Oaks Memorial Heritage Project a bronze life-sized statue was erected, which depicted a miner’s wife standing holding her baby at the pithead of Oaks Colliery, anxiously awaiting news of her husband’s fate after a devastating explosion. Over 380 miners lost their lives in this mining disaster in 1866, which is thought to have been the worst in England. The monument was created by local sculptor, Graham Ibbeson, the son of a Barnsley miner, whose relative, George Ibbeson, was killed in the blast. The statue has an integral bronze plinth which depicts a life-sized miner working a low coal seam.

Miners working down a shaft are also the subject of the recently erected Prestonpan Miners’ Memorial in East Lothian by local stonemason, Gardner Malloy. The monument was created to reflect the bravery and sacrifice of local miners and to commemorate Prestonpan’s industrial heritage.

Hove Plinth launches Inaugural Sculpture

The first sculpture to be presented on the Hove Plinth in Sussex will be Constellation by Jonathan Wright. His design is part mechanical model of the solar system, part film camera and part ship’s compass. Iconic images associated with Hove and its environs will orbit the system rather than planets. The sculpture will move slightly, casting shadows on the promenade. This inaugural sculpture is being funded by grants and public donations. Hove Civic Society has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for the sculpture. £33,000 has been raised so far, but a further £7,000 is needed by 21 June 2017. If they do not reach their target they will lose the £16,000 which has been pledged by the Arts Council. If you would like to help them reach this target please donate here.

The 57th Venice Bienniale

73-year-old Phyllida Barlow’s star continues to rise, her British Pavilion installation folly is ambitious and bold. Playing on the different meanings of the word, ‘folly’, she contrasts the concepts of the foolhardy or rash with architectural ornamental pretence, juxtaposing her work with the space. Colourful ET-like heads on metal stands spill out of the neo-classical building, while inside huge grey columns tower above the visitor and reach for the lofty ceilings. Barlow uses everyday materials – concrete, cardboard, foam, mesh, plaster, plywood and paint to make familiar objects and structures, and abstract forms to create an exploration of pretence and reality, which engage her ‘protagonists’ in a ‘theatrical encounter’.

In collateral events, Scotland + Venice show Rachel Maclean’s new film, Spite Your Face, at the altar of the deconsecrated church of Santa Caterina. A dark fantasy narrative, this draws on the Italian folk-tale The Adventures of Pinocchio, to present a satirical political post-truth dystopia. In a second event, representing Wales, James Richards has produced a fascinating multi-sensory experience with the interplay of sound installation, video and photographic image at Santa Maria Ausiliatrice. While at the Irish Pavilion, Jesse Jones shows ‘an expanded form of cinema’, which explores the current social movements in Ireland. 

The Diaspora Pavilion at the Palazzo Pisani a Santa Marina, curated by the International Curators Forum partnered by the University of the Arts London (ULA), challenges the concept of the national pavilion and is an exciting addition to the Biennale. 19 racially and culturally diverse British-based artists form a group exhibition to engage with the complex theme of diasporic experience in this exciting body of new work. The centre of the ground floor space is occupied by Hew Locke’s small colourful flotilla of model boats. Entitled On the Tethys Sea, this installation is symbolic of escape, safety and danger. Yinka Shonibare MBE showcases too, with a work called British Library (2017). In this room lined with books, each volume is covered in his signature batik fabric and embossed on the spine in gold with the name of an immigrant to the UK. 3rd Dimension was particularly intrigued by Sokari Douglas Camp’s All the World is now Richer, six steel sculptures representing the successive stages of the history of slavery travelling on a boat on the Grand Canal. This work has inspired a film commissioned for the Diaspora Pavilion, which brings these figures and their history into dialogue with the current migrant crisis. The Pavilion also included some interesting emerging talents such as Larry Achiampong and Paul Maheke.

The Finnish Pavilion also caught 3rd Dimension’s eye with The Aalto Natives, a collaborative work between Nathaniel Mellors and Erkka Nissinen. This dramatic and playful installation asks important questions about human existence and culture in a most engaging way.

And It’s Show Time!

Don’t miss the Student Summer Show 2017 season. There is lots of exciting contemporary art and a generation of new talent to spot. Here are our top tips for students to follow so far, doubtless others will also attract our attention over the next few weeks.

The Slade’s BA/BFA Show took place in May. 3rd Dimension was intrigued by Kerrie Addy’s The Human Predator, where her business men ‘creatures’ welcomed the viewer into their humorous, but disturbing, psychologically charged atmosphere. We were also impressed by the lyricism of Ruby Wallace, colour statements from Will Spratley, welded flowers from Yulia Iosilzon and Joe Highton’s confident variety of materials. Other highlights included Ernie Wang’s exquisite ceramics and the distinctive visionary dream-scapes of Kevin Brennan and Jerusha West.

Central St. Martins Degree Show One also took place in May. Here 3rd Dimension was struck by the the beautiful patina on Kirstin Barnes’ fountain, a towering viscous stalagmite from Jack Marder and the playful imagery of Wes Gilpin. We were absorbed by the durational performance of Simona Sarafudinova entombed in a black tower, Yoanna Bochowski’s fractured forms, and the inventiveness of James Tailor, winner of Helen Scott Lidgett Studio Award at Acme. Olwyn Carroll’s dark perversity lingered in the mind long afterwards.

At City and Guilds Foundation Show3rd Dimension was impressed by Lea Rose-Kara’s commanding form which dominated the enclosed space, and compelling work from Jean Watt and Anna Bogomolva. Camberwell College of Art’s Foundation Show also featured emerging talents such as Isabel Carpenter, Alice Bee and Eva Titherington. While at Worcester University’s BA Fine Art Show the work of Robin Woodward and Stefan Higgs caught our attention.

Main image: Heather Phillipson, THE END, maquette for the Fourth Plinth (photo: James O. Jenkins)

Aurora Corio