When you think of public sculpture, what do you think of? This strange meeting point between a private mind and a public space. History, identity, community made physical. So often when we come across public sculpture we feel indifferent. This exhibition and book were brought together to build new relations with the artwork around us. The sculptures that stand alone in our town centres, which mark and frame our motorway landscapes. Art that belongs to us the public.
'Sleeper, Giant' started with an invitation from Modern Painters, New Decorators to artists from across the UK to write texts which created new emotional, intellectual or physical connections to pieces of public sculpture. In return we received poems, essays and short stories as diverse as the monuments that litter our land. But they are united by this common goal. To engage. As well as designing a book the Modern Painters, New Decorators team led by David John Scarborough made prints, sculptures, fabrics and installations that combined together to respond to and present the texts in new forms. In line with the wider aims of the project, we also put on family workshops alongside two sculpture trails across the university campus and town centre, led by Dave Bell from LU Arts and Kev Ryan from Charnwood Arts.
Dave Bell is the Programme Co-ordinator for LU Arts, where he works with the University's art collection, assists the Radar Loughborough Contemporary Art programme and explores the links between research and art practices. Loughborough University has a varied public sculpture collection which includes newly commissioned work by Paul Wager and historically important works by Lynn Chadwick, Bernard Schottlander and Peter Laszlo Peri.
Kev Ryan is the Executive Director of Charnwood Arts and is also a community-focused artist. Charnwood Arts is an independent community arts and media organisation based in the Borough of Charnwood in the East Midlands of Britain. Their core work stimulates and supports local cultural development, working in partnerships with arts organisations, youth and community groups, schools and organisations and encouraging participation in the cultural life of Charnwood borough and the East Midlands.
As part of August’s ‘Loughborough by the Sea’ festival, Modern Painters, New Decorators in collaboration with Bearded Squirrel invited budding young artists from across the community to join us in celebrating this iconic sculpture as we competed to give the Sock Man a makeover in new colours and patterns. Tyler Newton was crowned the winner after impressing our panel of judges with his expressive and eye-catching rendition of Shona Kinloch’s sculpture. The Sock Man has been sitting on his bollard for twenty years now, offering a gentle and playful reminder of Loughborough’s rich history and in particular our impact on the textiles industry.
'Sleeper, Giant' was supported by generous donations from the general public.