First Plinth: Public Art Award 2019 is designed to offer sculptors an opportunity to extend their practice into competing for public art commissions. The winning sculptor is awarded £10,000 to produce a large-scale sculpture for the sculpture terrace at Dora House before moving to a second site at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The award theme is Progress.


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 Progress. 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 March–May 2020, before moving to a second site at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

ROYAL SOCIETY OF SCULPTORS – 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

Covering: gravel

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.

Work will sit on the ground. Please note that size and weight restrictions as per the Royal Society of Sculptors site will not apply and lighting will vary.


Clare Burnett

President of the Royal Society of Sculptors

Clare Burnett is President of the Royal Society of Sculptors. In her practice she tackles the dilemmas of 21st century living – technology, consumerism, migration - and how we find compromises to navigate them. Using wood, stainless steel, bronze, concrete, resin, plastic and clay, she sites works in groups or in locations that draw gentle attention to the issue in question. Clare has completed site-specific installations in spaces such as Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation, Brompton and Norwood Cemeteries and Bishopsgate Square.  She has shown outdoor sculpture at Meadow Arts, Cheeseburn, Hannah Peschar and Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer.  Solo exhibitions include Leighton House Museum, William Benington Gallery and the University of Leeds and she has shown at the RA, the National Gallery, the Jerwood Space, the RIBA and the Royal Society of Sculptors. She is represented in the UK by William Benington Gallery.

Hannele Tilles


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 will serve as a juror in 2019 for an art prize at a museum in Krakow, Poland.

Ruth Holmes


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.

Thomas Price (photo courtesy of Dan Fontanelli)


Thomas J Price (b. London, UK, 1981) studied at Chelsea College of Art (2001–04) and received an MA at the Royal College of Art, Sculpture School (2004–06). Price lives and works in London. Price’s work across media, encompassing sculpture, film and photography, is engaged with issues of representation and perception, in society and in art.  His works all share a fascination with the minutiae of body language, facial expression and external presentation, and in turn, their ability to suggest a state of mind. Selected solo exhibitions have been held at prestigious institutions including the National Portrait Gallery (London), Royal Academy of Arts (London), Mac Birmingham (UK), Royal College of Art (London), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (UK), Harewood House (UK) and Hales Gallery (London). Price’s work has also been included in shows in the US and Europe. Price's work is included in a number of private and public collections including Derwent London (UK), Murderme (UK) and the Rennie Collection (Canada).


Entry fees are:

Non Society members – £32.50

Society members – £22.50


To complete this application, please provide the following:

  • 5 images of recent work or work which relates to this award
  • A CV of no more than two pages long
  • A description of your present practice (200 words)
  • Please outline your idea for the theme of Progress (200 words)
  • A statement on how winning the award will move your practice on (200 words)

The closing deadline for applications is 5pm Friday 1 February 2019. 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 25 February 2019.

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