Call for papers: Émigré Sculptors Conference 2016

NY_YAG_YORAG_876_03

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) and 3rd Dimension, in collaboration with the City and Guilds of London Art School, will be presenting a two-day conference in London on 26 and 27 May 2016, looking at the ways émigré sculptors working in Britain between 1540 and the present day have contributed to the development of British sculpture.

The conference has a broad remit, and the organisers are interested in hearing from scholars exploring a wide range of themes relating to the experience, reception and artistic activity of émigré sculptors who came to Britain during this period. While this includes those who were forced to leave their home countries due to political, social or religious pressures, such as refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in the 1930s, we are also interested in papers on artists who chose freely to migrate to Britain, whether permanently or temporarily.

Closing date for proposals for papers: 1 February 2016.

Please visit the 3rd Dimension website for further details, http://3rd-dimensionpmsa.org.uk/emigre-sculptors-conference-2016/

Image credit: ‘Alfred Wolmark’, 1913, by Henri Gaudier-Brezeska, York Art Gallery, YORAG:876. Photograph by Colin White on behalf of the Public Catalogue Foundation, 2015.

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Testing the Photography of Sculpture: Pilot 1, York

An important part of our project Development Phase is to test out how we can produce consistent, high-quality images of sculpture in varied locations and situations across the UK. During the project Delivery Phase (subject to a successful second-round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund), we will be employing multiple professional photographers, who between them will photograph an estimated 85,000 sculptures in 2,800 participating public collections.

We need to be able to work in lots of different places and settings, so it’s important to test out now how that might work. Some sculptures will be on public display, but we estimate that around 80% of works will be in storage. Many sculptures will not be able to be moved and will be photographed in situ, but some might be suitable to move into a temporary studio set up in a store, office or corner of a gallery.

We will be doing two pilot photography sessions during the Development Phase – the first at York Art Gallery, then in late August we’ll go to Paisley Museum & Art Galleries. Both institutions have kindly given up their time to let us practice on their collections.

We spent three days at York Art Gallery this week in what turned out to be a very busy time for their staff! The art gallery has been closed for refurbishment for some time and re-opens on 1 August 2015 after £8m of improvements, including new galleries and the creation of the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA). The staff let us work around them, with us photographing the sculptures on display as they attended to their finishing touches in the galleries.

CoCA houses the most representative public collection of British studio ceramics in the UK and this fact brought the first dilemma – when is an artwork a sculpture and when is it studio pottery? A number of the pieces in their collection could fall into both categories, so whilst we were there we decided to photograph some of the more ‘sculptural’ studio pottery works, for further consideration. This included a ceramic figure by Grayson Perry (below) and a figure of Madonna and Child by Philip Eglin. We need to give some more thought to how we define sculpture and how we communicate our remit to the collections, so I’ll be bringing this up with the Your Sculpture Steering Panel at our next meeting.2015-07-20 10.17.09Our photographer, Colin White, was keen to test the photography of sculpture of different sizes, shapes and surfaces in a variety of different locations around the building. Colin had a plan for using the minimum amount of equipment during the shoot, to ensure that the methodology is easily transferrable to other photographers across the UK. Using one light, a roll of paper on a stand for the background and large pieces of card, he was able to adapt his equipment for all of the locations in which the sculpture was displayed.2015-07-20 12.08.44Coordinator Alison Mitchelson gave Colin a hand whenever he needed it, such as holding a piece of card to prevent glare on shiny sculptures:2015-07-20 12.24.41Alison and I also looked at how the Coordinators might record the sculptures during the Delivery Phase digitisation and tested a checklist we had devised in advance.

Colin took multiple images of each work, but one set of sculptures are displayed high up on the wall over the staircase, so in this case he was only able to take one shot of each work:2015-07-20 14.58.37Works in display cases or with reflective surfaces were photographed with the camera poking through a black piece of card. This prevented the camera equipment and the photographer being reflected in the photograph:2015-07-21 10.14.35After completing photography in the galleries, we moved into the art store, where we set up a temporary studio area. The same photographic equipment was used in the studio setting, but instead of taking the camera to the sculptures, the sculptures were brought in one at a time and put on the table:2015-07-21 13.25.57On the last day, Colin tested out taking multiple images of a sculpture for photogrammetry (below), to create a 3D image of the work. We look forward to seeing the results.2015-07-22 11.03.59I will put some of the completed sculpture images into a separate blog post once they have been processed.

Thanks again to all the staff at York Art Gallery, especially Martin Fell and Graham Thorne, for accommodating us at such a busy time. The galleries look amazing and I would urge you to visit once it’s re-opened.

Where’s Kitty? Cat sculpture spotting in York

We’ve been in York this week, testing our techniques for photographing sculpture in the York Art Gallery collection (more on that in a separate post). In advance of my trip, I Googled ‘sculpture in York’ to see what public art or monuments I might be able to see around the city. Apart from finding a hairdressers’ called Sculpture, my search led me to a statue of artist William Etty (1787-1849), gleaming white after recent cleaning, outside the art gallery; railwayman and politician George Leeman (1809-1882) near the station; and Roman Emperor Constantine (274-337) looking imperious beside York Minster (below). Constantine was sculpted by Philip Jackson in 1998.2015-07-19 19.34.38-1I also spotted a very fine statue of a Friesian calf in the courtyard of King’s Manor, one of the buildings owned by the University of York (below). Sculpted by Sally Arnup, it was acquired by the University in 1996.2015-07-20 16.57.24-1These statues are easy to find, but there is a whole set of smaller sculptures that call for some serious squinting and neck craning to spot. My internet searching led me to a website, Cats in York, devoted to cat statuettes and other decorative cats dotted around the city. The site lists over 20 cat statuettes and provides information on their location, installation date and how visible they are from ground level. Some were installed in the 19th century and early 20th century, but many were the signature of local architect Tom Adams to show which buildings he had worked on.

I followed the website’s Cat Hunt to five of these statuettes. The first one I found is a black cat sitting on a high window ledge in Coney Street:2015-07-19 19.11.47 HDRThe second cat I spotted is also sitting on a window ledge, looking out across the road towards the entrance to Museum Gardens:2015-07-19 19.16.33Two cats can be seen on one building in Colliergate. One is climbing up the wall and the other is in relief next to a shop sign:2015-07-19 19.25.56 HDR2015-07-19 19.27.36I just had time to find one more before it got too dark, so headed to Gillygate to find a white cat perched above the entrance to a shop:2015-07-19 19.40.45I asked a couple of people who know York well if they were aware of the cat statuettes and neither had heard of them or ever spotted one. It shows that we need to look more closely at the places we live and visit, as we might find something surprising.

To find out more about the cat statuettes, visit the Cats in York website.

Finding inspiration in Loughborough

Thanks to an invitation from Loughborough History and Heritage Network, we were invited to talk about the Your Sculpture project at their community event ‘The Future of the Past’ at Loughborough University on 21 June.

Amongst talks on local archaeology and history and stands by heritage groups highlighting their projects, Katey Goodwin (PCF) and Alison Yarrington (Professor of Art History, Loughborough University) introduced the plans for the sculpture project to an enthusiastic audience.

After the talk, one lady told us that she had never really paid much attention to public sculpture and took it for granted, but having heard about our project she had been inspired to look at the sculpture around her in a new way and would pay more attention in future. It was good to inspire at least one person!

Loughborough University is home to a collection of sculptures sited across its huge campus and has its own sculpture trail.

I spotted two striking works by the sculptor Paul Wager outside the Sir David Davis building on my way to the event. The image below shows ‘Strike’, a welded steel sculpture, created 1988-1989 and unveiled in 1995.Loughborough Uni 5The adjacent sculpture (below and at the top of this post), also by Paul Wager, is entitled ‘La Retraite’, created in 1986 and unveiled in 1995.Loughborough Uni 6Many of the sculptures on campus can be seen on the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association website and in the published volume Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland by Terry Cavanagh and Alison Yarrington.

Top Five Public Sculptures: Stoke-on-Trent

Just choosing five favourite public sculptures in Stoke-on-Trent barely scratches the surface of the public art and monuments spread across the City. Walk or drive around any of the six towns and you’ll encounter both traditional and contemporary sculptures. New works seem to appear regularly.

The latest addition to the city is Golden, a 21ft-high, steel artwork covered in 1,500 glass balls and internally lit by LED lights. Taller than the Angel of the North, it will be seen for miles around. It was installed in May 2015, but its official opening and switching-on ceremony will take place this summer. I’ll wait to see it all lit up before I decide whether it makes it into my top five.

This is very much a personal top five list. If there are other public sculptures in Stoke-on-Trent that you particularly like, feel free to let us know what they are and why you like them.

Privilege_DenisOConnor_Stoke5. Privilege, Denis O’Connor, 2005, Cavour Street and Etruria Old Road

This 9m-high, stainless steel sculpture represents the pottery and steel industries, which used to flourish in Etruria before their demise, and the National Garden Festival, which was held in the area in 1986. Sited by the busy A53, the work is seen by an estimated 30,000 motorists each day. I see it on a regular basis from the car, but have only walked up to it once, to take this photograph on one of the wettest days I’ve ever experienced. Even in a hail storm it looked very impressive.2015-06-03 12.51.19 HDR-1Award-winning sculptor Denis O’Connor has another large public art work in the City, Tree Stories (above), which was created with community involvement to celebrate the local mining industry. Sited in Hanley, this work has also been placed next to a busy road and is seen by thousands of people every day.

Woropay_6_15Jan154. Hand with Chronos, Vincent Woropay, 1990, Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station

I have written about this sculpture before, as its current location does not do it justice, being sited at the far end of platform 2 at Stoke Railway Station where few people venture. If you make the effort to look at it close up, rather than from a moving train, you can see the fingerprints and lines on the hand, as well as the chronos in its palm.

Wedgwood 23. Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795), Edward Davis, 1863, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent

Probably the best known of the Staffordshire potters (from being good at marketing, as well as his ceramic-making skills), Josiah Wedgwood greets visitors as they leave Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station. He is seen holding his ceramic copy of the Portland Vase, the 1st-century Roman glass vase in the British Museum.2015-05-27 09.32.57 HDR-1Another, more contemporary sculpture of Wedgwood (above), by Vincent Woropay, was created in 1986 for the National Garden Festival. This brick head was in storage for many years before being repositioned in 2009. It is now sited by Etruria Hall, previously the home of Josiah Wedgwood and close to the location of his 1769 pottery factory. Etruria Hall, which can be seen in the background, is now part of a hotel.

A Man Can't Fly_42. A Man Can’t Fly, Ondre Nowakowski, 1989, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent

Sited next to a busy road junction in the City’s University Quarter and close to the railway line, this figure standing on one leg and trying to fly is apparently there to remind us that that ‘we are in too much of a rush to do too much for most of the time’. I pass it on the way to the station, usually whilst worrying if I’ll find a space in the car park, so it’s a message I probably should take on board.A Man Can't Fly_5Ondre Nowakowski works as a full-time freelance artist, has exhibited widely and has works held in public collections, including numerous large scale public art works in the UK.

Her Head_DhruvaMistry_Stoke1. Her Head, Dhruva Mistry, 1986, Gilman Place, Old Hall Street, Hanley

Most of the buildings around Gilman Place are boarded up in advance of development of the area, so this beautiful sculpture’s surroundings do not currently do it justice. This might have been a busier thoroughfare when the work was placed here in 1988, but I do wonder how many people see it. It’s not easily seen by car either, as its back faces the busy city centre ring road.

Dhruva Mistry was born in 1957 in Gujarat, India, and has art works held in major public collections in the UK, India and Japan.'Her_Head'_by_Dhruva_Mistry,_Harris_MuseumThe Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, owns another version of Her Head (above), this one in plaster and shellac. You can also see an oil painting by Mistry on Your Paintings.

 

Further information on Stoke-on-Trent’s public sculpture:

Stoke-on-Trent Sculpture Trail

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association has produced a book on Staffordshire and the Black Country in their Public Sculpture of Britain series, published by Liverpool University Press.

All images by Katey Goodwin, apart from the image of Her Head at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston: by Rept0n1x (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Introducing our Sculpture Collection Researcher

The Public Catalogue Foundation recently advertised for a Sculpture Collection Researcher for the Development Phase of the Your Sculpture project. After an intensive recruitment process, we are delighted to announce that the successful candidate is Dr Anthony McIntosh. Anthony’s role, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be to survey the UK’s public organisations to gain an understanding of the nature and extent of their sculpture collections. He will also research the location of public monuments and sculpture around the UK.

Here, Anthony introduces himself and tells us about his interest in sculpture:

“I have recently been appointed as the Sculpture Collections Researcher for the Your Sculpture project. As a development of the superb Your Paintings website, it is a really exciting initiative and I am equally excited to be part of this early development stage.

Since finishing my PhD at the beginning of 2014, I have been working as a freelance researcher and lecturer. I have done work for a diverse range of clients that include Professor Mark Stocker of the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, NZ, and a company in Hastings who are engaged in creating several installations in Dover to commemorate the centenary of the Great War. I am currently carrying out research work for Ann Compton, who was Project Director for the wonderful Mapping Sculpture online database. Ann is currently writing a book about the makers and methods of sculpture in Britain between 1851 and 1940. In addition to working as a researcher, I occasionally give lectures at the University of Brighton on the use of oral history as a research tool.

Although I love to look at new public sculpture, ironically I am often drawn more to those pieces that have disappeared, or that are being grossly neglected. I am fascinated by the lost biographies of sculpture that once graced our streets and parks. I have an article in the forthcoming issue of the Sculpture Journal that discusses a statue of Captain William Pechell (below), a hero of the Crimean War. Matthew Noble_1I discovered the statue in 2007 slowly disintegrating in undergrowth in Brighton’s Stanmer Park. This statue by Matthew Noble once dominated the vestibule of the Royal Pavilion, but is now a sad example of what can happen to important pieces of commemorative sculpture once the generation who erected it have gone. Matthew Noble_2I have recently been digitising the Captain’s letters home from the Crimea for the Somerset family in Worthing.

Before I started my PhD, I was the Research Officer for the Sussex Recording Project, a collaborative project between the University of Brighton and the PMSA that aimed to detail all of the public monuments and sculpture in Sussex. You can find the database online at: www.publicsculpturesofsussex.co.uk. I still occasionally add new objects to the database at the request of the sculptor. During that project I discovered many fascinating stories of ‘lost’ objects. Not many people, for instance, would know that the allegorical group of statues surmounted by Queen Anne at the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral is a copy (below, first image), and that the original is eroding away behind The Ridge in Hastings (below, second image). Queen Anne_1

Queen Anne_2The detective work involved in revealing these lost and neglected pieces is often fraught with difficulty, but ultimately really rewarding when their present or past existence can be brought to the public’s attention.

After the Sussex project ended I worked as the Administrator for the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) in London, until I received a full Arts and Humanities Research Council grant to continue with my PhD studies full time. The work that the PMSA continues to do on the National Recording Project is integral to the discovery of many such objects and I would like to pay tribute to the individuals all over the country who have worked tirelessly to record, and where possible photograph, our sculptural heritage. Very often they are receiving no financial or other institutional support but are carrying out this work fuelled only by a passion for sculpture and a determination to document this aspect of the nation’s heritage for posterity – usually resulting in the publication of another superb volume in the Liverpool University Press Public Sculpture of Britain series. Our own Sussex volume was published in November 2014.

My PhD focused on two case studies – both public monuments that have been moved or demolished. One of them, the Prince Albert Memorial Clock Tower in Hastings, is probably talked about as much now by the people of the town as it was before it was demolished in 1973 (see below).HastingsMy PhD explored the way in which public monuments can become so central to community life that they come to represent the identity of particular towns and cities and of the people who live there. They become places embodied with meaning and sites rich with individual and collective memory. My study also revealed the importance of large central monuments to a range of community events such as carnivals, Whit walks and other ad hoc celebrations, such as those at Christmas and New Year. I am also very interested in objects associated with parades and processions such as banners, particular forms of dress (both of these often homemade) and in rituals such as ‘marking the bounds’.

Amongst the many things that my previous roles and my PhD studies revealed, one of the most important, I think, is that the monuments and public sculpture that local communities embrace and become emotionally and passionately engaged with are not always those that academics and experts feel are ‘worthy’ of study or conservation. That fact alone has frequently made me think about what the word public really means in the term public sculpture. I recently visited Seaham in County Durham on the way back from the Borders in order to look at a new sculpture titled ‘1101’.Tommy_2The sculpture by local artist Ray Lonsdale, and named ‘Tommy’ by locals had been placed on the seafront temporarily, but had become so loved by the local community that they raised the £85,000 necessary to purchase it and it will now stay onsite permanently. I viewed the work for approximately two hours and during that time there was a constant stream of people of all ages arriving to look at the piece; families, individuals, young people, disabled people. It has clearly become part of the fabric of the community there and is already functioning as a spatial and temporal location for the creation of public memory. I remember thinking that what I was witnessing was the real meaning of the phrase public sculpture.

The Your Sculpture project is in its infancy but will, without doubt, become the most important initiative to date in ensuring that our rich sculptural heritage is documented and the data made easily accessible online to everyone. I am delighted to be a part of that undertaking.”

If you would like to contact Anthony about the project, please email: Anthony.McIntosh@thepcf.org.uk