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Sculpture in the City, now in its fourth year, features works by leading artists placed amidst the City’s iconic architectural landmarks. From last Spring to this, Londoners found Jake and Dinos Chapman’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’sdinosaurs prowling their daily commute to the Gherkin, Richard Wentworth’s Twenty-Four Hour Flag’s chairs clinging precariously to the side of the Hiscox building, Petroc Sesti’s Optic Spheredistorting the familiar surroundings of Great St. Helen’s Square and the effective juxtaposition of Ryan Gander’s Really Shiny Things That Don’t Mean Anything at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate. This year’s artists include Antony Gormley, Cerith Wyn Evans, Lynn Chadwick, Ben Long, Julian Wild, Nigel Hall, Peter Randall-Page, Jim Lambie and Richard Wentworth. Highlights include the first use of the City Corporation’s 1881 Leadenhall Market for Cerith Wyn Evans’s neon piece and Richard Wentworth’s installation of hundreds of books suspended just above head height. Wentworth explained : ‘I live in a ready-made landscape and I want to put it to work.’

Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament, at the Whitechapel Gallery and the London Coliseum
28th – 30th June

The Whitechapel Gallery and English National Opera are collaborating to celebrate the work of American artist, Matthew Barney, by screening his two major art projects. The Whitechapel Gallery will be showing the film of The Cremaster Cycle, 1994-2002. The entire work combines film with sculpture, photographs, drawings, books, installations and even a website, to create a totally encompassing artwork. The full cycle was first presented at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2002. Barney ‘has fused sculpture and film in new and unprecedented ways, redefining the very terms with which we view contemporary art,’ stated Guggenheim director Thomas Krens. The all day screening is taking place from 11.00am on the 28th June, and will be followed by a conversation between the artist and Artangel’s James Lingwood, interspersed with talks from guest speakers throughout the day.

Tickets at the Whitechapel sold out fast, but a few are still available at the London Coliseum for the UK premiere of Barney’s most recent work, River of Fundament, 2006-2014, on 29th and 30th June. This operatic film was made in collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler, and was conceived as a series of site-specific performances and events within elaborate installations, recorded on film. A satirical commentary on contemporary American culture, it combines Barney’s obsessions with Norman Mailer, classic cars and petroleum jelly. Once again Barney will be on hand in a pre-performance talk with Will Gompertz.

Steady as She goes! The Ninth Ring of the History Trees goes up this Week in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

A tense moment as the ninth ring is lowered into place onto its new home, a Pin Oak planted at Waterden Road in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. In 2012, The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the Arts Council awarded British artists Ackroyd & Harvey with a major commission ‘Mapping the Park’ entitled History Trees. The commission consisted of ten semi-mature trees each supporting large bespoke bronze and stainless steel rings, suspended within the leafy tree canopy, and planted to mark the ten entrances to the 500 acre Olympic Park. Each ring is six metres in diameter and engraved on the interior with a text relating to the history of the surrounding area. One ring encircling the English Oak at the Westfield entrance has its shadow permanently captured in bronze, so that each year both ring and shadow will align to commemorate a specific date in the Olympics. Ackroyd & Harvey’s thought provoking work reflects their interest in environmental concerns and issues of urban political ecology, embracing natural processes with an often haunting and poetic result. PMSA is following Ackroyd & Harvey’s other fascinating project Beuys’ Acorns and looks forward to interviewing the intriguing pair.

Shock of the New! RBS Sculpture Shock Winner Patrick Lowry in Pop-up Exhibition

Last week saw the launch of Sculpture Shock winner Patrick Lowry’s new site-specific installation Quantititive Easing, at The Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury. Lowry was the winner of the Subterranean category of the Sculpture Shock prize announced earlier this year. The aim of Sculpture Shock is to liberate sculptors from the confines of what the RBS refer to as ‘the clinical white cage’ of the gallery space. Absorbed by The Horse Hospital’s rich history as a commercial printers, Lowry explores themes of counterfeits, fakes and forgeries in his atmospheric installation. PMSA waits with baited breath for winner of the Ambulatory category, Alexander Costello’s site specific work for the Fordham Gallery on the canal boat, Marlowe, in June, and winner of the Historic category, Joanna Sands’ spatial intervention at the Museum of Immigration and Diversity in September. 

Go North! It’s all about the Yorkshire Festival…

The exciting Yorkshire Festival, accompanied by the Grand Départ cycle race heralds an ambitious programme of multi-disciplinary cultural events which will no doubt bring visitors to the Festival in their droves. Executive Producer of the Festival, Henrietta Duckworth explained to PMSA that the main aim of the Festival is to ‘engage people’s minds and imagination and also give them a great experience’.

Sculpture plays a pivotal role in the Festival, because it is the first time that the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, consisting of The Henry Moore Institute, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Wakefield Museum, has ‘acted as a collective force of public art’, commissioning sculptor Thomas Houseago to create two major works. Duckworth explains there is perfect synergy in the commissioning of Houseago, an internationally renowned artist and native of Yorkshire, who was the natural choice to create the monumental striding figure, which is sited outside Leeds City Art Gallery, because this is also the starting point of the Grand Départ cycle race.

The second sculpture Large Owl (For B) will be installed at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Land Art is another unique feature of this Festival. Inspired by televised aerial views of Land Art images that line the Grand Départ race in France, which are traditionally light-hearted, here in Yorkshire a serious sense of artistic purpose emerges. Eight artists have been commissioned to create a series of interventions over a hectare of land. Their creations involve a variety of techniques such as sowing, scorching, moving and even incorporating the tracks of the cycle race itself. Duckworth enthuses about how the Land Art captures the spirit of the Festival by engaging with nature, as the land itself is the symbolic heart of Yorkshire, connecting people to their history and roots. PMSA hopes to visit the Open studios in June, where two hundred artists will be exhibiting across North Yorkshire. So much to see!

Scottish sculptor, Alan Herriot in the News twice …

It has just been announced that a memorial honouring the Durham Light Infantry is to be erected in the city’s market place. The sculpture of a single soldier mirrors Herriot’s version in The National Arboretum in Staffordshire. With genuine pride, Colonel Arthur Charlton explained: ‘this is great news…a fitting memorial recognising the history of the County Durham’s own regiment.’ A council spokesman echoed his sentiments saying: ‘The sculpture will be a valued feature of both city and the country’.

To mark the centenary of the Great War, Herriot’s other commission unveiled at the beginning of May is a bronze Sergeant of the Black Watch, commemorating the 8,960 officers and soldiers who died in a key action, which brought to an end the first battle of Ypres. This dynamic striding figure, in the distinctive regimental uniform of kilt, jacket and bonnet with Lee Enfield rifle and bayonet, typifies the fighting spirit reflected in Colonel Alex Murdoch’s tribute: ‘Their heroic stand was to prove decisive because it stopped the German advance to the coast… the war would have been over and lost’.

Bristol buzzes with _Book Hive

An amazing, highly imaginative animatronic sculpture, the Book Hive, was installed in the foyer of Bristol Central Library earlier this year. Created by robotic artists, Rusty Squid, the temporary installation celebrated the 400th anniversary of Bristol Libraries.

The sculpture used animatronic movement-responsive books in the shape of a hive to interact with visitors and digital technology to infuse life into the books. The hive of books grew every day, until it incorporated 400 books to mark the anniversary. The installation, which has now closed, was a response to the tremendous impact that digitisation has had on books and libraries. The sculpture proved a great hit with thousands of visitors flocking to see it. PMSA will be looking out for more fascinating sculpture from Rusty Squid!

Geoffrey Clarke’s Square World I–V Series on Public Display after 50 Years

Geoffrey Clarke’s Square World I-V Series (1959) has just gone on public display for the first time in 50 years. The series consists of five open cast aluminium reliefs, which were originally commissioned for St Chad’s, Rubery, Birmingham, but were removed before the church was consecrated. The reliefs represent some of Clarke’s earliest works in cast aluminium, the use of which he developed and was an important material in twentieth-century sculpture.

The installation of the pieces at The Lightbox in Woking on 12th May was attended by the sculptor’s son, Jonathan, who was 2013 winner of the Marsh Award for Excellence in the Restoration of a Public Sculpture for his work on his father’s Spiral Nebula at the University of Newcastle (Marsh Award).

TheSquare World I-V Series, which is unique, was acquired recently by the Ingram Collection. Johanna Baring, Curator of the Collection said: ‘…Square World I-V,… expresses the meeting of the celestial with the terrestrial and achieves a modernity that perhaps proved too brave at the time, resulting in the commission being removed from St Chad’s so swiftly.’ She added that the work ‘… is a bridge from the ‘Geometry of Fear’ of the 1950s to a period of rapid change and expansion in British sculpture. TheSquare World Seriesshows British Modernism at its most creative and influential.’

Henry Moore Plaque

Another English Heritage blue plaque has been put up to the great twentieth-century sculptor, Henry Moore. This time it celebrates his place of birth, Castleford. Moore was born in July 1898 in a terraced house in Roundhill Road, Castleford, West Yorkshire. The plaque has been put up on Henry Moore Square off Roundhill Road. Henry Moore Square was built to commemorate the centenary of the sculptor’s birth and stone features on the site refer to the events in his life, which led to him becoming a sculptor.

There is also a blue plaque to Moore, put up in 2004, on 11a Parkhill Road, Belsize Park, London NW3, which is where he lived and worked from 1929-40.

The Don

Cambridge has escaped having a 13’ bronze sculpture, another piece of kitsch in the vein of Snowy Farr, erected in the city. The sculpture entitled The Don is according to Nadine Black, Public Art Officer for Cambridge: ‘possibly the poorest quality work ever submitted to the council.’ In fact it is so bad that even the reputed sculptor, Pablo Atchuggarry, from Uruguay has denied it is his work.

The Don comes with an eye-watering price tag of £150,000 and was commissioned to stand outside a new office block. Developers, Unex Group, defended The Don as ‘a spectacular piece of art,’ but Cambridge Councillors have sent them back to the drawing board.

Cambridge student newspaper, The Tab, was scathing. It reported one of its readers thought that The Don looked like a ‘dementor’ from the Harry Potter series, adding: ‘Naming the statue with a term from the other place probably wasn’t wise.’ 

Not exactly the Bread of Heaven!

Morrisons supermarket has used Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North for an advertising campaign to sell its bread. The struggling supermarket retailer has projected the image of a baguette on to the wingspan of the Angel of the North, which was erected in Gateshead in 1998. Marketing doesn’t seem to be Morrison’s strong point. Quite why this image would encourage customers to buy French sticks remains a mystery. The sculptor was relatively resigned about the campaign saying: ‘I’d rather the Angel is not used for such purposes, but it’s out there.’ Morrisons have now issued an apology.

Sound Sculpture rocks MIMA Garden

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva has created a new site-specific sound sculpture for the garden at MIMA. To activate the sounds, the visitor has to walk through and around the HA[SOFT]RD, the sculpture which is made from industrial parts and materials which reflect Middlesborough’s local economy and business growth. A strong steel structure frames the body of the work which consists of a bespoke steel mesh incorporating honeycomb porcelain filters used in local industry.

The name of the sculpture derives from a comment made by the Mayor: ‘Someone once remarked Middlesborough people have a hard exterior, but a soft centre…’

Listen Up! Sound Sculpture takes centre stage at Imperial War Museum North

Sound sculpture is a fascinating medium which has been attracting much attention recently. The internationally renowned sound sculptor,, Bill Fontana, who has been working in this field for thirty years has just been featured on Radio Three with Sean Rafferty. Fontana has created a major new sound sculpture Vertical Echoes, for Imperial War Museum North to mark the centenary of the First Word War. From May 1st, visitors will be immersed in the roar of the Sopwith Camel biplane and a barrage of artillery fire as they enter the 55m high Air Shed section of the Museum. Using eight loud speakers and vibration sensors, Fontana creates a visceral, immediate experience evoking the barrage of noises that would have assaulted soldiers on the battlefield. To complete the story, once inside, visitors can see the field gun that fired the first shot of the war and a replica of a Sopwith Camel.

Fontana has previously exhibited at Tate Britain with his Speeds of Time, involving a real-time sound map derived from the sounds of Big Ben. In her recent article, Allison Keyes asked: ‘How do you wring sound from sculpture?’ in which she examines how musician, Rufus Reid, has been inspired by the late sculptor and civil-rights activist, Elizabeth Catlett’s work to create his new sound sculptures, Quiet Pride. Focusing on five sculptures that caught his imagination, Reid explained that the ‘angst in the face’ of one of the busts could be captured in music : ‘you would take maybe something that was fast, something that was angular harmonically, skips in intervals that make you feel uneasy hearing them. It’s not tangible, but I think there is a feeling’.

A Suffusion of Colour for St. Pancras

St. Pancras International has unveiled its latest Terrace Wires installation by the Scottish artist, David Batchelor, entitled Chromolocomotion. This exciting 20m x 10m installation consists of 44 brightly coloured mosaic Perspex L shapes that hang from the roof-space of the Grade 1 listed Barlow Shed. When the light shines through it, the area below is suffused with colour. The installation follows in the footsteps of Lucy + Jorge Orta’s Cloud: Meteoros. This is the largest single art work to occupy the roof-space and can be viewed from the Grand Terrace until late September .

Don’t mention the Oil! Richard Wilson’s Slipstream for Heathrow Airport

Artist Richard Wilson breaks away from what he calls his ‘party pieces’ for Slipstream at Heathrow Terminal 2. Wilson’s new creation is the largest privately funded sculpture in Europe. A dynamic, thrusting wave of aluminium, the sculpture is 80 m. long and weighs 77 tonnes. Wilson explained that he wanted convey ‘velocity and acceleration of flight’ and evoke the early era of speed typified by Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird.

Lucas for Britain!

The British Council has announced that artist Sarah Lucas is to represent the UK at next year’s Venice Biennale. Lucas will follow in the footsteps of artists such as Jeremy Deller, Steve McQueen and Tracey Emin. The Director of Visual Arts at the British Council described Lucas as ‘A formidably inventive sculptor’. Lucas’ recent exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery celebrated her vital, highly original mix of imagery and media, which The Guardian called ‘strangely disturbing’. Gnomes and loos made of cigarettes – Lucas we salute you!

Aurora Corio