SCULPTURE 98 Text Colette Bailey Sculpture 98 spring p.9
THE INTERNATIONAL GREENHAM COMMON SCULPTURE COMPETITION 1998 1st prize winner by the main entrance. Commissioned by Greenham Trust http://www.greenhamtrust.com
and the winners are...
It would have been impossible in decades gone by to have imagined anything al Greenham Common beyond the gigantic concrete runways, the nuclear bombers taking off, towering perimeter fences and the permanently encamped protestors. Bul how time has changed everything. We are now talking about a site where the commercial development will have a strong cultural element - and there has already been a sculpture competition for creations within that development. It is all moving very quickly indeed and the three winners of the competition, organised jointly by the Greenham Common Trust and the Royal Society of British Sculptors through its management arm The Sculpture Company have been chosen.
The three, Michael Kenny, Gudrun Nielsen and Chris Booth very neatly define the wide range of entrants. Kenny, a Fellow of the RBS, is a hugely experienced British sculptor, a former head of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London, who has exhibited around Britain and in Paris, Tokyo, Milan, Buenos Aires and elsewhere. Nielsen, a Bursary Member of the RBS, is a comparative newcomer showing very exciting promise. She trained at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts and came to London to continue her studies at the Chelsea College of Art and at the University of East London and she already has work in private collections in Iceland, Denmark and England. Booth is an International Member of the RBS, a much admired and respected sculptor from New Zealand.
Michael Kenny’s design is for the Enterprise Centre, an office and light industrial development of five buildings. Made of blue/grey Kilkenny limestone with unpolished stainless steel rods, it is 5.7metres high in a circular space 10.5metres across. It will have a budget ol £20,000. “Normally Michael Kenny confines himself to calm geometric shapes with a conventional balance,” said Philomena Davidson Davis, managing director of the Sculpture Company. “This time he has introduced conflict and achieved a new dynamism and energy by cutting into the vertical line and upsetting that conventional balance.” Gudrun Nielsen’s design, 48 metres long and rising to 3.65 metres at its highest, will be along the roadside at the entrance to the sile, with a proposed budget of £50,000. She calls it ‘Changes.’ It will be made of sheet steel, painted white, possibly with concrete from the old airport runway as its base. “It is a very abstract, minimalist piece,” said Philomena. “The individual pieces give it a feel of growth and continuity.”
The New Zealander Chris Booth designed something which was the best idea for a public sculpture anywhere on the site and within the plans for land use on the site. As yet it is unbudgeted but he receives £1,500 as do Kenny and Neilson. He has called his work ‘Oak Stone’, inspired by a grand oak tree and he chose the site because it is a commanding place within a semi wilderness and wonderful indigenous trees. ‘Oak Stone’ would consist of fourteen slabs of crystaline sandstone and up to twenty three glaciated granite boulders.
“We looked through a hundred and fifty submissions,” said Brian Falconbridge, one of the judges and Head of Visual Arts at Goldsmiths College. “It was inevitable that many of the sculptors would be strongly influenced by the recent history of Greenham Common and yet there was a lack of subtlety in some of those that had obvious references to bombs and missiles and such things. There was also the usual difficulty with competitions of trying to assess chalk and cheese, but in the end we were all in complete agreement about our three winners.
It was a “blind judging process and the members of the panel were Sir Peter Michael (chairman), Philomena Davidson Davis, Brian Falconbridge, Madeleine Ponsonby (Director, Roche Court Sculpture Park, Wiltshire), Simon Tait (arts journalist) Hugh: Pearman (architecture and design critic, Sunday Times), Chris Austin (Chairman, Greenham Commoners Association). JP.