Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture

This Award is run in partnership with the Public Statues and Sculpture Association (PSSA) and celebrates excellence in contemporary sculpture.

The Award recognises the best sculpture or monument installed within the last year in a public space, enabling people to engage with this art form.

Nominations for the Award go through a number of stages of judging by a panel consisting of specialists in the field.

For more information on the Awards and how to nominate please see here.

Pictured: Richard Wilson, Slipstream 2014, Aluminium steel, plywood 78 m, Heathrow Terminal 2, London, Photograph © David Levene

This Award was previously run in partnership with the Public Monument and Sculpture Association (PMSA)

'Your Next Breath' - Kenny Hunter 2023

This sculpture was commissioned by the Royal College of Surgeons to commemorate the dedication and resilience of NHS workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sculpture consists of four life-size bronze sculptures depicting four healthcare workers in scrubs as they experience a moment of reflection at the end of a shift on a Covid ward. The memorial was initially modelled in clay and then cast into resin, at this stage it was previewed by King Charles III in June 2022, before being cast in bronze and installed in the grounds of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in October 2022. The sculpture was conceptualised after Kenny Hunter spent time speaking with three surgeons who had been redeployed to work on Covid wards in the early stages of the pandemic. During these conversations, he captured the mix of strong emotions that healthcare workers were experiencing during this challenging, exhausting and scary time. The sculpture is also an acknowledgement of those who were lost in the line of duty and has created a physical space for people to pay their respects and ensure that these sacrifices are remembered. 

Previous Winners

Caribbean Fruits - Veronica Ryan

These marble and bronze pieces are situated in Hackney and were installed to honour the Windrush generation, many of whom settled in the area. They are an example of cultural visibility and representation in a public space, helping to raise the profile of the important story of this generation. The fruits are interactive and playful and are made of permanent materials which ensure they will be available to the public for many years to come. Veronica Ryan’s use of fruit in her piece ties in to the narrative of migration and movement, which is synonymous with the Windrush generation.


Awards Presentation:

Our Emmeline by Hazel Reeves

 A statue of the renowned suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, located in the centre of Manchester. Emmeline is positioned standing on a chair with her arm outstretched, as if giving a speech, and the sculpture has resonated with locals and tourists alike since its unveiling in 2018. 

'George Orwell' by Martin Jennings

Martin Jennings makes portrait sculptures and public statues and has been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, St Paul’s Cathedral, the University of Oxford and many other national institutions. His subjects include prominent figures from the worlds of politics, the military, royalty, academia, literature, industry, medicine and the law.

This larger-than-lifesize sculpture of George Orwell for the exterior of BBC Broadcasting House in London was erected in 2017 and includes a quotation from the author which has been carved into the building. The quote reads “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” from the proposed preface to Animal Farm and can be seen as a rallying cry for the idea of free speech in an open society. The sculpture stands at 8 ft high and is made of bronze. The statue was commissioned and paid for by the George Orwell Memorial Fund.

In a blog written for the BBC’s website, Martin Jennings said of his piece “I’ve wanted to express Orwell and candid and forthright, a pointed and interrogative figure forcefully enquiring of each of us whether we too will take his stand on behalf of intellectual liberty and truth”.

'Women of Steel' by Martin Jennings and 'Four Brick Reliefs' by Rodney Harris and Valda Jackson

‘Women of Steel’

Women of Steel is a sculpture dedicated to the women who worked in the steelworks of Sheffield during the First and Second World Wars. The sculpture was commissioned by Sheffield City Council and a fundraising campaign raised more than £160,000 to pay for the bronze sculpture made by Martin Jennings. The Council said that it was important to recognise the women who had been conscripted to work in the factories and steel mills, taking on roles that were dangerous and physically demanding.

The statue shows two women, dressed in steel factory boiler suits, one a welder and the other a riveter, standing arm in arm. Martin Jennings said that linking the women’s arm made the statue a symbol of solidarity and it has become the perfect vehicle through which to recognise those women who served diligently in the wars and have waited a lifetime to receive the recognition that they deserve. Martin Jennings is a renowned sculptor and his varied portfolio of work includes the famous John Betjeman sculpture in St. Pancras station.

Due to the high standard of nominations, the judging panel decided to award a special prize for a low relief sculpture

‘Four Brick Reliefs’

Rodney Harris collaborated with Valda Jackson on a commission by the Peabody Trust, developing a series of sculptures for the redevelopment of the Peabody St John’s Hill Estate in Clapham. They created relief sculptures, built into the brickwork of the development, located at various points of elevation, recalling the domestic history of the site. The redevelopment by the Peabody Trust is providing new homes for a diverse community on a cleared site within an aging 1930s estate. The use of this original sculpture is a notable feature of the new development.

Habitat by David Nash

This seven metre high column of cedar wood has been installed on campus outside Diamond Wood (commemorated in 2012 for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee) at the University of Warwick to mark its 50th Anniversary in 2015. The sculpture was installed on campus on Thursday 6th August 2015, having travelled from David’s studio in the Welsh countryside, through the valleys and hills of the National Park.

The column has been shaped and carved, not only to look impressive, but also to provide shelter for birds, bats and insects. There is a perch for birds and a hiding place for insects, as well as slits which have been cut into the upper area to provide a home for bats. David Nash chose this site for the sculpture to “be a signal for the biodiversity Diamond Wood will become in the future. The sculpture will change over the years, becoming part of the wood’s eco-system as it weathers and creatures inhabit it.” The wood that was used to create the sculpture came from a blown down tree that had been growing in the grounds of the Hotel Portmeirion in Wales. David has remained true to the original natural shape of the tree, so much so that it is possible to see where the branches would have been.

David Nash is a former artist in residence at the University of Warwick, and during this time, in 1996, he created a number of sculptures created from wood from local trees sourced with the help of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. He has held major solo exhibitions at Kew Gardens and at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, as well as a t the University of Warwick’s Mead Gallery. David is concerned with creating sculptures which respond to the material from which they are made and to the site where they will be placed, and so in keeping with the biodiversity of the site of the sculpture it was made to also invite the natural world to occupy it.

Room by Antony Gormley and Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Puji DFC

Room by Sir Antony Gormley 

‘Room’ is the latest work by Sir Antony Gormley and is a huge sculpture of a crouched figure that doubles up as a luxury hotel room, located on the side of the Beaumont Hotel. The 4 metre-square, 10 metre-high interior is fitted out in dark fumigated oak and the only furniture is a bed. The room also has black-out blinds and so can be plunged into complete darkness. Sir Antony said of the piece, “What we see on the outside is, in a way, a spectacular landmark in the manner of a brutal body described in the language of architecture; but in its interior is a very different manner of sculpture which is actually about forming experience.” ‘Room’ is located 200 metres from Oxford Street and is “essentially a cave that is completely withdrawn”, he said of the work that he wanted it “to be both in the city but absolutely removed from it, giving a feeling of enclosure within and exposure without.”

Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Puji DFC, by Douglas Jennings 

‘Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji DFC’ is sited in St Andrew’s Gardens in Gravesend to commemorate and celebrate all those who volunteered to serve Britain during various military campaigns between 1914 and 2014. Squadron Leader Pujji is one of the 2.5 million servicemen who came from the Indian subcontinent, the largest volunteer army in history and in 1940 he was one of 18 qualified Indian pilots who volunteered for the Royal Air Force. He had a distinguished career in World War Two flying and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery. 

Slipstream, by Richard Wilson RA

Richard Wilson and his team were selected from five international artists to design a sculpture installed at Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport. This took the form of a twisting and tumbling monoplane, inspired by the Red Bull air race. The design was evolved through a large number of models and drawings, some of which have been displayed at The Royal British Society of Sculptors.

Richard Wilson worked in collaboration with the fabricator, CSi, structural engineers, Price & Myers, and Futurecity, who curated the installation. The result is a magnificent piece of public art, which pushes the boundaries of sculpture and is totally original.

With a slight shift of angle, the appearance of Slipstream changes radically, giving the impression of a machine moving through space in spectacular manoeuvres. As passengers travel up and down the escalators, it twists and turns and even changes colour and texture. The sculpture has attracted new audiences for contemporary art in an airport terminal handling 20 million passengers.

The judging panel were unanimous in their selection of Slipstream as the 2014 winner, for its unique location, the boldness of form and the great quality of its fabrication.

The Bomber Command Memorial by Philip Jackson

Sculptor Philip Jackson has been awarded for his sculptures of the Bomber Command Aircrew for the Bomber Command Memorial. The Memorial was designed by architect Liam O’Connor and commemorates the nearly fifty-six thousand crew who died while serving in the Bomber Command during the Second World War. It is located in Green Park along Piccadilly.

The bronze 9 foot high sculpture of seven aircrew has been designed by Philip Jackson to look as though the men have just returned from a bombing mission and left their aircraft. It is truly impressive and the scale of the sculpture means that visitors will always see its profile against the sky above them, day and night – thus rendering that section of the sky powerfully symbolic for the memorial.

Aluminium from a Royal Canadian Air Force Handley Page Halifax of 426 Transport Training Squadron, that had crashed in Belgium in May 1944, was used to build the roof of the memorial, which was designed to evoke the structure of the Vickers Wellington.

The Comedy Carpet, by Gordon Young and Indian Ocean Tsunami Memorial, by Carmody Groarke

The Comedy Carpet, by Gordon Young

Sited in front of Blackpool Tower, the 2,200m2 work of art contains over 160,000 granite letters embedded into concrete pushing the boundaries of public art and typography to their limits.

Created by artist Gordon Young, and designed in collaboration with Why Not Associates, the Comedy Carpet is a celebration of comedy on an extraordinary scale. Referring to the work of more than 1,000 comedians and comedy writers, the carpet gives visual form to jokes, songs and catchphrases dating from the early days of variety to the present.

The Comedy Carpet was commissioned by Blackpool Council as part of the regeneration of the sea front. Designed in a cross shape, it links the entrance of the Blackpool Tower to the beach and connects the north and south sides of the promenade.

Indian Ocean Tsunami Memorial, by Carmody Groarke

The 115-tonne 3.7-metre single granite monolith was created by the design team of Carmody Groarke and is located in the Natural History Museum’s Darwin Centre Courtyard.  The final setting of the stone has a deliberate architectural relationship between the bold new buildings and landscape of the new Darwin Centre.

The Memorial design reflects the views and feelings of UK survivors and bereaved families.

Within this new public space, the Memorial offers a place for quiet contemplation bringing comfort to those who have lost loved ones in the Tsunami whilst symbolising the powerful and sometimes destructive force of nature.

The raw cuts on the exterior surfaces of the 120 tonne form result directly from the extraction processes of the rock from the quarry.

Kevin Carmody and Andrew Groarke are already well known for the Seventh of July Memorial in Hyde Park and other projects. Their practice works on sculpture, exhibition design, private housing and public spaces.

The Coldstones Cut, Andrew Sabin

Andrew Sabin studied Sculpture at Chelsea College of Art from 1979 to 1983, where he worked as a Senior Lecturer until 2006. Since then he has exhibited widely in Britain and throughout Europe. A pioneering experimental object maker until 1989, Andrew produced his first major installation for the Chisenhale Gallery in East London. This was followed in 1990 by the Sea of Sun installation, an important element in the inaugural exhibition of European Sculpture at the Henry Moore Institute which subsequently travelled to museums in Lausanne and Lisbon.

The Coldstones Cut combines the curious conventions of a contemporary streetscape with the brute impressiveness of ancient stone block constructions. Perched at a height of 1375 feet above sea level, it can be freely explored by visitors who can walk the street and the various winding paths within and experience the extraordinary vistas which the platforms expose. The Coldstones Cut is built of limestone and from the top of its spiralling arms; visitors will be able to see the roof of York Minster. It is designed to be a permanent reminder of North Yorkshire’s quarrying industry.

Memorial to 158 Squadron, by Peter W. Naylor

The memorial, in Corten steel, is sited on the former RAF Lissett Airfield in East Yorkshire, and was erected as an integral part of the development of a wind farm on the site by Novera Energy. There are 12 wind turbines which began generating electricity in February 2009. 11 of the turbines are names after bombers that were based at the airfield, and the 12th commemorates six ground crew who died as a result of an explosion in the bomb dump on 2nd July 1943.

The memorial itself consists of seven, 8 foot tall figures of airmen made from water-cut 15mm Corten steel, extending some 15 feet across. The silhouettes reveal the squadron’s flying jackets, boots and parachutes. The names of the 851 people who died whilst with 158 Squadron are etched on either side of the figures and the top of the knoll, on which the memorial stands, contains the 7-link chain emblem of 158 Squadron, and the concrete block at the start of the path leading up to the memorial shows their motto, ‘Strength in Unity’. The block also holds inside a visitors’ book for comments and is flanked by large information boards about the site and the memorial.

Dream by Jaume Plensa

Mind's Eye by Ian Rank-Broadley and Cutting Edge Sculpture by Si Applied Ltd.

Deer Shelter Skyspace by James Turrell and Captain Quilliam by Bryan Kneale RA

Scallop by Maggi Hambling and Sheffield's Cholera Monument restoration, by Jim Hurley