Sculpture at Canary Wharf: A Permanent Collection
Book Launch – Tuesday 3 February
Canary Wharf are celebrating their collection of public art by publishing a new book, Canary Wharf: A Permanent Collection, a companion volume to Sculpture at Canary Wharf: A Decade 0f Exhibitions published in 2011.
My sculpture, Returning to Embrace, is included in both volumes. It became part of the public art collection after being exhibited at Canary Wharf in the exhibition to celebrate the millennium, Shape of the Century: 100 years of Sculpture in Britain. It was sited at 10 Cabot Square and by popular demand was purchased by Canary Wharf to remain there.
Public Art has been an important part of my output as a sculptor and has had a considerable effect on how I consider my practice. I fulfilled my first public art commission back in 1985 as part of my remit as Community Artist in Residence for the Borough of Thamesdown. Since then, when offered the right opportunity, I have enjoyed the challenge of undertaking a number of prominent public art commissions. One of the prime reasons of course is that the commissioning of sculpture normally means that one is able to realise work on a scale that is not tenable in normal situations but perhaps even more importantly, I have relished the challenge of addressing my work to a much broader audience than might normally visit a contemporary art gallery.
Commissioned public art also requires a response to criteria one might not normally consider. The context of the site can be a major influence on the form and content of the work; the history and the environment of the location in which it will be placed can also influence the final outcome. For instance, my recent sculpture Bird in the Bush 2014, is a piece that is very much in keeping with my current work. Its inspiration however, came directly from the physical and historical context of the African landscape in which it is placed. Its form takes much from the series of Clan Totems I had previously designed to celebrate indigenous Ugandan tribal culture. The content however, very much symbolises the environmental restoration work that the commissioners, The Ruwenzori Sculpture Foundation, are undertaking on site in Western Uganda. The work is piece of public art that can be seen as a totem to the centre by both the local people and by foreign visitors.