Memorial short-listed for public sculpture award
I am delighted to announce that “The Naval Service Memorial” that I designed, located at the National Memorial Arboretum, has been short-listed for the PMSA Marsh Award for excellence in Public Sculpture.
I was extremely honoured to have been selected to create the Naval Service Memorial and was pleased to have the unanimous backing of the RNA (Royal Naval Association) for the ambitious design from the very start.
I needed to design a memorial that captured the work of the Navy holistically, so I commissioned giant sails of glass, their colours representing all of the different oceans around the world. The colours – Ultramarine for the Pacific, turquoise for the Indian Ocean, white for the Arctic and Southern Oceans and steely grey with spume lines for the Atlantic, would rise out of the ground and project their coloured shadows onto a white granite terrace. The shadows change their hues, their length and their alignment with one another over the course of a day and throughout the year. For a couple of hours around midday on sunny days, the negative shapes created by the individual shadows of the sails, merge together to form the outline of a battleship on the terrace before the sun moves once more and the shadows begin to disperse. Visit the memorial in summer to see the sun illuminating the sails and creating short strong colourful shadows. Attend the same spot in the winter months and you are invited to wade through the long blue watery shadows, the colours of the oceans, that now stretch across the entire granite terrace.
Another key theme was “At the going down of the sun, we will remember them”. At one end of the memorial, a carved stone sailor stands alone, facing west, head bowed in respect in front of a yellow glass panel representing the morning sun. At the opposite end, a deep red panel – sunset.
Inspiration for my work often comes from unusual sources. No more so than in this piece where the idea to create the “shadow ship”, stemmed from observing the outlines of shapes created by the shadows of the washing on the lawn at home as my wife pinned it out.
One of the challenges with this memorial was to maintain the simplicity of the design with so much happening within it. This is something that I was conscious of throughout. The glass was precisely cut, laminated, strengthened and installed by Proto Glass in Pewsey while I carved the Kilkenny Limestone sailor myself. No rank, no gender. Bell bottomed trousers and cap behind his back the only detail required.
It is fantastic that the work has attracted praise from outside of the Naval Service. For a full list of the other public sculptures on the Marsh award short-list, visit pmsa.org.uk
The winner of the award will be announced on the 2nd November at an event in London.