Hove Plinth Project Part 2 : The Shortlist

More than 70 local, national and international artists submitted proposals for the exciting Hove Plinth Project. A shortlist of ten, from sculptors with a fascinating variety of experience, was announced by the Hove Civic Society on Monday 8 June and includes an interesting and wide range of themes.


1. BEACONS ‘is a celebration of the space and heralds the site as an innovative cultural arm of what Brighton has to offer as a cosmopolitan place to live. The sculpture is made from stainless steel and the surfaces of each cone can be laser-cut with imagery bespoke to Brighton. These ideas can be developed via Community Workshops, and laser perforations will be illuminated via LEDs within the sculpture, so that the visibility of the artwork alters at different times of the day and season.

Beacons also form part of the history of Brighton. In 1326, a chain of beacons were set alight along the South Coast and maintained throughout the Tudor Period and beyond to warn the populace of impending invasion. In 1588 these beacons were set alight to warn Britons of the impending Spanish Armada.’

John Atkin FRBS was personally funded through his three year sculpture course at the Royal College of Art by Henry Moore. London-based Atkin focuses his public art on creating cultural legacies which reference social heritage within the contemporary landscape, using imagery and materials which are specific to a particular place. Atkin exhibits internationally; his commissions include the award-winning 27 ton granite and marble sculpture, Strange Meeting, 2008, for the Olympic Park Cultural Olympiad Beijing, China. He has presented keynote papers at conferences worldwide such as The Sculpture by the Sea Symposium at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney , Australia in 2004 and has also contributed works to The Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions at Bondi, Sydney.

2. ESCAPE ‘will be a fluid amorphous form that will mirror the organic movements of nature, the sea breeze, the gliding birds and the rolling waves, whilst also mimicking the energy and diversity of the people it would become a part of, moving, dancing, playing.

The blue opaque cast resin will give the piece an ethereal quality that can be compared to that of amber. It will be highly polished and this reflective quality in contrast with the twisted refracted distortions of light and caustic projection will make the shape sparkle.

The shape itself is symbolic of seaside treats from the early 80s, ice-cream, ice-lollies and sweets which gave me inspiration for the extruded profile of the form. This profile was then referenced with the Art Nouveau organic ‘whiplash’ curves seen in many decorative architectural elements on the Brighton and Hove seafront. The tip of the sculpture doubles back on itself, resembling a tongue that is tasting the flavours on offer.’

Matthew James Davies is a 32 year old artist living and working in Oxford. He grew up in a creative artistic environment and was drawn to design and aesthetics. Davies studied at the Arts University in Bournemouth, where he chose the most hands-on course available – Model-making. He started his working life as a model-maker working for the film industry, architectural practices, product designers and on museum installations. Davies is currently conceptual designer at a sculpture studio in Oxfordshire. 

3. CIRQUE DU SOLEIL ‘was one of several maquettes made in my first studio in Brighton. The sculpture makes oblique references to big wheels, hoopla throwing in the ‘impossible’ pier game, circus acrobats on the lawns in Festival time, Ballet Rambert, and all the hum of Brighton and Hove.

There is something else – when the bounding energy gives way to a sense of unpredictability. Here, life is in the balance, up in the air or in the hands of a capricious nature or creator. Androgynous and anonymous figures fly in defiance or hold the air, appearing to float or flee, their means of support seemingly nebulous. It is a sculpture that pokes fun at gravity — an exercise in a perfect, but disquieting balance.

The sculpture has been designed to be open, letting light, seascape and landscape through and will be produced in coated bronze and steel.’

4. FLIGHT OF THE LANGOUSTINE ‘was inspired by beachcombing in Brighton. A storm had deposited a mangled lobster pot yards from my studio under the arches. This washed-up object had been a means of escape for the lobsters and this translated itself into a human story of exodus and release – a dash for freedom.

Here a liberating energy gives way to a profound sense of unrest. These are androgynous and anonymous figures flying in defiance or fleeing, challenged by the confines of their environment. Grouped in unearthly compositions, truly transcending the confines of the ground, these figures are light and delicate. They balance improbably on geometric planes, perched or floating freely on forms forged to suit an allegorical purpose. They are at once laconic and profound, frivolous and boisterous, occupying the air like a flock of birds. The sculpture has been designed to be open, letting light, landscape and seascape through and will be produced in coated bronze and steel.’

Pierre Diamantopoulo MRBS lives locally in Brighton, a graduate of Essex University, he was a leading advertising copywriter for 15 years before becoming a successful artist. Diamantopoulo has now brought this creative imagination to his sculptures. He has exhibited throughout the UK and has work in private, corporate and international collections. He show-cased in the Twenty-First Century British Sculpture Exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. His landmark sculpture, Kandi Sky , 2008, in painted steel, which spans 22 metres, stands on the Middlesborough College campus at Middlehaven and is one of the Northern Gateway Sculptures.

5. LANA ‘My concept for Lana takes elements from local architecture. Both the Brighton Pavilion and Jaipur Gate are hybrid structures located in an alien landscape.

The sculpture uses elements of Jali – the term for a perforated stone or latticed screen, usually with an ornamental pattern constructed through the use of calligraphy and geometry (found in Indian, Indo-Islamic and Islamic architecture). The geometric form I have employed is a three-dimensional representation of a Necker Cube, an optical illusion. Each part of the image is ambiguous by itself, yet the human visual system picks an interpretation of each part that makes the whole consistent.

Reflecting and framing the immediate environment, the sculpture maintains an illusory effect. I also apply anamorphosis, a distorted projection or perspective that requires the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point to reconstitute an image. Lines and shapes create an alternating perspective. It becomes impossible to retain the two and three-dimensional aspects together in one view. The sculpture would be constructed from carved sections of marble fixed together.’

Suresh Dutt MRBS completed his MPhil at the Royal College of Art in 2010 and has exhibited in solo and groups shows at venues such as Manchester Art Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum and Royal British Society of Sculptors. He has worked in Tokyo, New York, Prague, Madrid and Delhi on projects and exhibitions through research and travel scholarships with Arts Council England, Crafts Council, British Council and Visiting Arts. Dutt’s practice investigates concepts of visual perception. He applies and manipulates geometric forms and grid structures into space and onto surfaces. His main concern is to establish a space where phenomena can emerge and are experienced, creating an area of ambiguity or active perspective where multiple interpretations can be sustained.

6. CONVERGENCE  ‘Key themes behind Convergence are the links formed over time between Brighton and Hove to become a single city, and its position on the sea edge. The sculpture combines two bodies, or orbs, linked through a tendril wave like spine. The orbs are of different sizes, textures and materials, made from patinated dark tan or verdigris cast bronze.

A concave mirror of polished stainless steel is inlaid into the larger orb. On the underside of the tendril will be a mirror divided into 19 sections representing each of the 19 groynes found along the Brighton and Hove beach front. These would catch the light and glint and glisten when viewed from various angles.

The piece is designed to project a constantly evolving shadow on the promenade and incorporates a noon sunspot mark. Sunlight passing through an aperture within the larger orb body will cast a disc of sunlight onto the shadowed area to the North of the sculpture.’

David Harber had an eclectic career as apprentice thatcher, potter and owner of a travelling theatre barge, before developing a business creating sundials, water features and garden sculpture. He is fascinated by the interaction of light, reflection and illusion. He combines values of craftsmanship and ingenuity, striving for intrigue and drama by reshaping and reinventing materials, techniques and forms. Harber has completed projects and commissions internationally for private, corporate and public body clients. His studio and workshop is based in Oxfordshire.

7. PERFECT STORM  ‘is a one year long digital data collection process that forms a final giant bronze ‘cyclone’ sculpture, shaped by the wind on Hove seafront. It is inspired by Stephanie’s father’s barograph and images from childhood of barometric readings in red cochineal ink, barometers, thermometers and rain gauges.

The sculpture will be based on digital readings of the wind speed and direction on Hove seafront from an automated weather station set up near the plinth. The collected wind data will be publicly accessible on an interactive website and transformed algorithmically into 365 smoothed outlines representing the average wind speed and direction throughout each day of the year. These shapes will be laser cut and stacked onto a spindle to form a three dimensional structure that will be cast in bronze. The final sculpture will be placed on the plinth, aligned correctly to North so that visitors can see how the sculpture’s form is a response to the prevailing wind, in much the same way as a tree is blown and shaped over time.

Stephanie Rubin and Jonathan Hogg
Stephanie Rubin lives in Rye, East Sussex and graduated from City and Guilds of London Art School with a degree in Fine Art Sculpture. Rubin worked initially in bronze foundries, honing her skills and rounding her understanding of the lost wax process. She has since worked on large-scale projects for Disneyland Paris, taken up residencies in Barcelona and Japan, and carried out private commissions for international collectors. Her present subject matter is ‘details that appear as landscapes.’ This fascination has led her to investigate weather data and work with new technologies.

Jonathan Hogg graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in Electronic and Software Engineering. He has worked in academic research, the finance industry and as CTO of two software companies. In 2009 he began making interactive digital installation and participatory artworks. Hogg lives and works in London.

8. CAMERAMAN  ‘would give both locals and visitors an insight into the important, if little known, part Hove has played in the history of film and film making.

A one and a half times life-size bronze sculpture of an early 20th Century film cameraman with the camera pointing downwards as if filming the passersby.
A small wide angled digital camera would be concealed within the bronze camera lens and the resulting film of passersby shown on two interactive screens housed in (or on) the two shelters behind the sculpture. These interactive screens would also show a history of film making in Hove, information about the Hove Plinth project and a film showing the making of the sculpture. The sculpture would be in a realistic, figurative style and cast in bronze in keeping with the other sculptures in the area.’

Roland Stevenson has lived in Brighton and Hove for the last 34 years. He studied illustration at Brighton Polytechnic and began his career as a sculptor working for model making companies in London, making a wide variety of sculptures and effects for TV commercials. In 1995, Stevenson started working on feature films such as GladiatorBlack Hawk Down and Exodus making props and sculptures. Although based in Brighton, he has worked on films all over the world and is one of the leading sculptors in the British Film Industry. Stevenson’s private commissions include the lions on the gateposts in Park Crescent Gardens near the Level, Brighton.

9. CONSTELLATION ‘Part Orrery (mechanical model of the solar system), part film camera and part ship’s compass the sculpture will combine several visual themes. The elements of the Orrery that represent the planets will be replaced with objects that refer directly to Hove and its environs. These will be made using various techniques including casting and 3D printing. The main structure will rest on a gimbal that allows the work to move and respond to environmental conditions. It will also incorporate a large glass lens. The piece will measure five metres in diameter. It will cast beautiful shadows.

The idea is to establish the most popular landmarks and iconic images associated with Hove by contact with local groups and residents, through a programme or workshops and meetings. Possible items for inclusion in the work would be models of the Hove Amber Cup, models of existing statuary, models of important local buildings or terraces, texts or sports reference. Some of these images could relate to future possibilities.’

Jonathan Wright was born in 1961 in London and now lives and works in Folkestone, Kent. He exhibits regularly nationally and internationally and has recently collaborated with Diane Dever on Penthouses, a series of sculptures which were shown at the Folkestone Triennale. Wright’s work shows how ideas and forms change as they move from one part of the world to another. He utilises ‘everyday’ structures and objects, often posing as structures of transmission, exposing their inter-relationship to a contemporary narrative. The objects reference the machinery of the modern city and the interconnectedness of our everyday lives.

10. PROMENADE  ‘would be a public participatory sculptural and light installation.

The piece takes the form of a Carousel Horse representing life’s formative ups and downs, and a metaphorical pleasure journey into ‘nowhere’. The theme is in direct response to the site, referencing both the history and culture of promenading as well as appealing to, and literally including, a contemporary audience.

During the day, the sculpture, which will be constructed from highly durable resins, and Jesmonite plaster, can be admired for the texture of its surfaces, which will be made using antique lace, referencing the ornate garments worn by promenading ladies (and gentlemen!).

By night, it will be illuminated with projected digital imagery stored and collected in the mapping software and light projector. As well as stored photographic, drawn and written material, it is possible to collect data through a (censored) platform for live uploads by the public.

In this sculpture, a nostalgic, ornate celebration of the past combines to meet a vibrant night-time festival of all that contemporary life has to offer.’

April Young is an established British artist, closely associated with the horse as a main subject. She combines her studies of Literature in Glasgow, with Fine Art in Loughborough to produce highly crafted, contemporary works which explore social narratives. Her commissions include clients such as Total Oil, Border Fine Arts and Morgan Stanley. Her work features in private collections worldwide and she exhibits regularly at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Young is currently working on an ongoing, Arts Council funded project called ‘Gifted’ in the East Midlands. Inspired by her childhood experiences in Brighton, the project has the image of the Carousel Horse as a central metaphor for the ups and downs, and cyclic motion of life. This process also extends very effectively to community-based projects, allowing groups to share their experiences and aspirations in a visual way on the surfaces of the large scale pieces, which are illuminated using light projections.

A panel will select three winning proposals on 30 June and their decision will take public feedback into account. Each successful artist will then be asked to create a high quality maquette of their proposal. When sufficient funds have been raised, the plinth will be erected and the first sculpture commissioned. Each of the three winning proposals will be exhibited on the plinth for 12-18 months and then will be found a location for permanent display in Hove or Brighton.

The ten shortlisted proposals are on view at Jubilee Library, Brighton 8 – 13 June and Hove Central Library 15-20 June 2015. 
Main Image: Illustration of the proposed plinth on Hove Esplanade (photo: courtesy of Hove Civic Society)

If you would like to contribute to the Hove Plinth Campaign donate here

To comment on the Hove Plinth proposals contact Karin Janzon: karin@hovecivicsociety.org

Hove Plinth Project

Aurora Corio