First Plinth: Public Art Award 2023 is designed to offer sculptors an opportunity to extend their practice into competing for public art commissions. The winning sculptor is awarded £15,000 to produce a large-scale sculpture for the sculpture terrace at Dora House before moving to a second site at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The award theme is Parade.
This biennial award is open to any artist working in three dimensions, providing a unique and rare opportunity for the winner to build a track record in the competitive arena of public art.
The fabrication of the winning work is supported by the award, with the winner receiving mentoring from a team of experienced professionals – engineers, consultants and artists – to ensure the concept is delivered to the exacting standards required of work to be installed in public spaces.
This award is generously supported by the Mirisch & Lebenheim Charitable Foundation
First Plinth: Public Art Award is designed to closely replicate the public art commissioning procedure. The award’s aim is to challenge, yet support the sculptor through this process. Like most public art commissions there is a theme and therefore value will be attributed to a well-considered approach to the theme of Parade. Open to interpretation and approach, we hope this theme encourages applicants to push the boundaries of their practice.
The winner of First Plinth: Public Art Award will create an innovative work for the sculpture terrace at Dora House to be shown in 2024, before moving to a second site at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The winning artist will also have the chance to have a supporting show in the galleries of the Royal Society of Sculptors during the same period the award work is on the sculpture terrace.
The sculpture terrace is part of the Royal Society of Sculptors site at 108 Old Brompton Road. Please see below for full information regarding this space:
Dimensions: approximately 6 x 3.5m
Work will sit directly upon the ground
Weight bearing: approximately 2000 kg
Foundations: existing concrete foundation 2.5 x 2.5 m to a depth of 20cm
Lighting: floodlit at night; external power socket for additional electricity/lighting
The former site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is free to enter, and enjoyed by millions of visitors every year. The south of the Park contains the London Aquatics Centre and the London Stadium – former Games-time venues, now in everyday use – and the stunning ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture by Sir Anish Kapoor. It is designed as a modern-day ‘Pleasure Garden’, with plants from around the world, including prairie-style planting from celebrated designer Piet Oudolf. Not far away is Fantasticology meadow which is the largest colour segregated meadow in the UK created for the Games as a heritage art piece referencing the area’s industrial past. This planting complements the Park’s fountains, playgrounds and spaces to rest and relax, including access to east London’s historic waterways. At night, the main route through the south of the Park is lit by coloured lights, creating beautiful patterns of shadow.
Bill Price is a director at WSP and a structural engineer by background. He worked on the Shard at London Bridge from the earliest stages of design development to completion in 2015. He is now working on several masterplans involving transport infrastructure as well as the Cube at Paddington Square. Over the years, Bill has worked with many artists and sculptors assisting with engineering design, fabrication, safety, transportation and site installation. Bill is a trustee of the Royal Society of Sculptors and provides support to the board as well as artists if required. In addition, Bill is a trustee of the Rose Theatre in Kingston, supporting original drama and family shows as well as a wide range of community engagement.
Internationally exhibited since the 1960s, her works are in numerous collections including Tate, British Museum, V&A and FNAC in Paris. Lijn works across media – kinetic sculpture, film, text and performance– to explore language, mythology and the relationship between light and matter. Current exhibitions include Nothing is Lost: Art and Matter in Transformation, October 2021-February ’22, GAMeC, Bergamo. Light: Works from Tate’s Collection, Museum of Art Pudong, Shanghai (touring Asia) August–November 2021; To the Edge of Time, Big Bang 2021 City Festival, KU Leuven University Library Galleries, Leuven October 22, 2021 – January 16, 2022, The Milk of Dreams, Biennale Arte, Venice 2022, Light: Works from Tate’s Collection, ACMI, Melbourne, 16 June-November 2022; Op and Kinetic Art: Works From Tate’s Collection, Museum of Art Pudong, Shanghai, September 2 Upcoming: Lighten Up: Inside the Biology of Time, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, 24 March – 30 July 2023; Siren, Amant Foundation, Brooklyn, September-March 2022. Liliane Lijn is represented by Rodeo, London/Piraeus.
President of the Royal Society of Sculptors
Laura Ford studied at Bath Academy of Art between 1978-82 including a period at the Cooper Union School of Art, New York. Then completed an MA at Chelsea School of art 1982-83.Her work is represented in many public collections including; Tate, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Government Art Collection. Laura's sculptures are faithful representations of fantasy with sometimes bitter sweet and menacing qualities mixed with tenderness. She uses humour and an acute observation of the human condition to engage with wider social and political issues. Her work is intensely crafted but playful, and she has used a range of media to realise her work including, drawing, painting, performance, set design and has increasingly taken on the challenge of public art alongside museum and gallery shows.
Hannele Tilles has curated several exhibitions in her native Finland. She has a long-standing interest in art, particularly sculpture, and has served in previous juries for Public Art Awards at the Royal Society of Sculptors. She was also a jury member for the Society’s SKULPTUR project, an exhibition of work from all five Nordic countries. Hannele is also involved with a new art prize BELOW ZERO with Beaconsfield Gallery in London and serves as a juror for a triennial art prize at Galicia Museum in Krakow, Poland.
Head of Landscape and Public Realm, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
For over eleven years Ruth worked for The Royal Parks, as Head of Landscape and Project Sponsor for major projects, until moving to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park nearly 2 years ago. At The Royal Parks she was responsible for caring for the historic landscapes and accommodating events like Frieze Art (The Regent’s Park), Anish Kapoor: Turning the World Upside Down (Kensington Gardens) and permanent art installations. At LLDC she is responsible for guiding development of landscape and the public realm over the Park and regeneration area. Currently she is working with the East Bank Partners (V&A, Sadler’s Wells, BBC and UAL’s London College of Fashion) to implement art within the public realm for the Stratford Waterfront site.
Entry fees are:
Non RSS members – £32.50
RSS members – £22.50
To complete this application, please provide the following:
The closing deadline for applications is 5pm Monday 16 January 2023. Unfortunately due to the number of applications we receive feedback will not be given at this stage. Notification of all results will be sent by email week commencing 6 February 2023.
Please note that the application fee is non-refundable.
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