Seven contemporary artworks have been chosen to be installed as part of a Kingston sculpture trail opening in mid-August.
An open call was put out earlier this year for artists to submit their ideas and all of the sculptures will feature in publicly accessible spaces for three months and one will be chosen by the public to remain in the centre of Kingston.
The winning artworks were selected by a distinguished panel chaired by David Mach, made up of young people, the Mayor of Kingston Councillor Sushila Abraham and representatives from Kingston University.
The panel met at the end of May to decide on a shortlist out of over 40 submissions.
The criteria were to challenge and interest people in Kingston and be able to work outside in spaces within the town centre.
The artists were asked to consider where the pieces might work best in the town and make sure they could be sustained in the public domain for a number of months, potentially longer if one is chosen by the public to remain permanently.
Kingston First, one of the organizing forces behind the sculpture trail along with Canbury Community Trust, Kingston Council and Kingston University spoke to SWL about the winning submissions.
CEO Kirsten Henly said: “We’ve got a really great array of artists. Some have showcased their work internationally, and we’ve also got folks from Surrey, and we’ve got someone from Kingston University as well.
“So, we’ve got local, we’ve got regional, and we’ve got internationally celebrated artists which is great.
“There’s a whole different this different kind of meanings behind each of the pieces. There’s different kind of materials and they’re all different sizes.
“I think it’s going to be really interesting to see them in their settings nd I think that will all add to people’s experiences of them as well.”
South West Londoner caught up with some of the winning artists to talk to them about their work and what it means to them to have their work on public display in the riverside town.
Alex R T Davies MRSS has two sculptures as part of the trail, ‘The Kiss’ and ‘Party Animal’ and told SWL: “I’m over the moon about it. To get selected for anything, but especially by a selection committee like that is amazing. It’s still a bit of a haze at the moment.
“I only heard about it from the Royal Society of Sculptors the week before. My workshop and studio are not far from Kingston, and I have sort of grown up in and around the Surrey area anyway. So, I thought it’d be great to have something there.
“The telephone boxes have always been there in the background of my mind every time as a child going to Kingston and seeing them. They’re probably one of the first bits of contemporary sculpture that I ever saw really.
“Kingston is the big town I had various connections with growing up, from being dragged to go shopping by my mother to then my teenage years and the odd night out there, right up to my first job, working in a dry cleaners’ there. Now I drag my kids shopping there. It’s coming full circle.
“It’s amazing to actually have something that’s local to me and to get some sculpture out in the public eye as well. It’s not really something that I’ve had in my own work.
“I’ve been in various exhibitions and sculpture parks, but this is the sort of artwork that is really going to be out in the public.”
‘The Kiss’ and ‘Party Animal’ are both made of bronze and part of a series of sculptures titled ‘Unwanted Monuments’.
In ‘The Kiss’ two bronze street cones ‘kiss’ inspired by Rodin and Constantin Brâncuși’s piece of the same name
In ‘Party Animal’, a bronze goat sculpture stands proudly with a street cone on its back and the public is invited to touch and sit on the piece.
Roger Clarke MRSS, a senior lecturer in Fine Art at Bath School of Art, has sculpted another of the winning submissions, ‘Kingston Spinning Sculpture’, a colourful piece that invites viewers to physically spin it.
Clarke said: “To me this is kind of new beginning for the sculpture. You know even though it could have always stayed in the two other locations where it was over the last few years, I want a new life for it.
“I think the excitement for me is that it has a new life, a new beginning. And it gets rejuvenated each time.”
“When I talked about it to my students, of course, there’s a huge gap between seeing something visually as a photograph and actually having it in your presence. So that’s been quite an interesting thing because I think none of the students quite understood how it was made, or quite how large it was. I think it has been quite interesting seeing them realise that there are things that take me a long time, almost two months, pretty much.
“It’s a huge endeavour to make something on that scale. It’s been great to have it in Bath but I’m glad it’s coming to Kingston.”
David Begbie MRSS winning piece in the trail is called ‘AANGEL’, an androgynous angel figure acting as a ‘guardian’ or benevolent presence looking over Kingston throughout this difficult time we have had during the pandemic.
The angel is made of bronze mesh and will be suspended over a street in Kingston.
Begbie said: “Most of the work that I make has a strong sort of classical feel all about the human body.
“This medium for certain subjects and in some settings, it has quite a strong spiritual feeling because it’s quite ethereal and sort of semi-transparent and very mysterious.
“So, a subject like an angel sort of benefits, very much from this sort of mystery that it has because it becomes a little like an apparition.
“For the subject the material works very, very well. But one of the reasons I’ve chosen the angel is because throughout the pandemic I’ve been working on a series of angels because it felt appropriate with all the uncertainty.
“An angel is often seen as guardian so I thought for Kingston, maybe a positive symbol of some sort of protection is an appropriate subject in the current time. So, I came around to the idea of doing something for Kingston that had a strong sort of protective quality about it.
“Essentially, it’s an asexual, androgynous character. it was actually a girl angel, but I changed my mind and decided on the traditional concept of an angel that is asexual. It’s not one or the other. It talks more of our collective humanity rather than gender.”
It is designed to move on wheels and invite people not only to touch it but also listen to it throughout the seasons.
Jovanović told South West Londoner: “It started as a collaboration for a new performance work called Drumming in the Hall of the Mountain, which revolves around four spirits that gather at the bottom of a mountain to end time.
“Early inspiration for it came from Tatlin’s Tower, a very symbolic monument in Russia that was never built. There is something very poetic in what that represented in terms of gathering and social action and what a mountain vision could lead to in a completely different context.”
Hardy added: “There is a very open invite to engage with it in movement terms. Understand it in terms of motion. I have a background of play space. The structure that has to be played with. Swinging off it, climbing it, touching it. It comes from a very bodily place I would say. The kind of place where things happen.
“I hope this acts as a beacon which delights and surprises and it does not seek to explain itself. You can explore its shadow. It does not have a detailed title so it wants to be seen in an ambiguous or plural way.”
‘Time and Tide’ is a curved, mirrored sculpture by Marigold Hodgkinson FRSS. It shifts gently with the wind and changes how it reflects light and its surroundings as it does so.
Richard Trupp MRSS submitted his large industrial wedge-shaped sculpture ‘The Juggernaut of Nought’ which contrasts to its surroundings aiming to create a moment of pause and celebrate the history of industry around the Thames.
The locations of the new pieces will be revealed at a later date but they will join the iconic ‘Out of Order’ by David Mach, the new eleven metre long three channel video installation ‘Echolocation’ from Mat Collishaw and Carole Hodgson FRSS’s 1986 wall-based sculpture of Icarus holding a Sopwith Camel in the Cattle Market car park.
Photo credits: Kingston First