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Professor David Wright comments on recent study by Art UK

In recent years, statues have tended to be in the news when they've come down, so it is really interesting to see a story about statues going up, and to see some positive outputs from the campaigns to diversify who is represented in our towns and cities. It's also great to see Art UK's on-going work to make public art - and the artists who make it - visible and accessible get recognition.


Three things are interesting from my perspective, based on my on-going research on celebrity and public art. First, the number of named individuals among new statues is quite small - about 20% of the statues Art UK record this year. That reflects a general trend for public art to be more likely to commemorate groups/abstract figures.


Second, compared to the statues of the 19th century, very few of these statues are to what we might call 'the great and the good'. Instead, they tend to commemorate entertainers, athletes, writers or notable local historical or community figures. That is a change from who was commemorated historically.


Finally, it is interesting that many of these statues are at ground level, and even, in the cases of the Lenny Henry or Sheku-Kanneh Mason statue not 'solid'. Contemporary statues are less monumental in scale and are less likely to tower above city spaces on plinths- and perhaps represent less of an ambition for permanence. All of these things, alongside the subject matter of who is depicted, suggest a more inclusive attitude to the design of civic space

Wed 27 Mar 2024, 14:48 | Tags: Arts, Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies