2015 First@108 Public Art Award: Winner Announcement

3 December 2015


The Royal British Society of Sculptors (RBS) is delighted to announce sculptor, Tabatha Andrews as the winner of the 2015 FIRST@108: Public Art Award, which for the first time is being run in partnership with CW+. This partnership provides the framework and stimulus to enable the realization of two new sculptural interventions which will improve the hospital experience for elderly patients and their families.

The jury, made up of arts and health professionals were impressed by Andrews' sensitive response to the unique environment and audience, recognizing the huge potential of her proposal to contribute to the well-being of patients and visitors to the hospital. Libby McManus, Chief Nurse at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, was on the jury panel. She says: "Tabatha demonstrated that she really understands the very complex and yet somehow simple needs of the people we care for. To hear an artist describe their connection with care and wellbeing was humbling. I am really looking forward to seeing her finished work in the hospital and am sure it will be have a huge impact on the well-being of patients."

Being an artist who intrinsically embraces a sensory approach, Andrews states, "To me, sculpture is a means of visualising the invisible, by giving material form to those things we can sense but not see. I am interested in the point at which language breaks down and communication enters a primitive state."

Beginning with the thought-provoking and fascinating theme of Memory, not to mention a complex and challenging brief, Andrews posed the question 'How can sculpture stimulate the brain and body through touch and interaction and provide a sense of being secure, being held? In response to this question, Andrews proposed two interactive and multi-sensory sculpture installations which will on the one hand engage and stimulate the mental faculties of people suffering from memory loss, whilst at the same time provide quiet and restful places for patients and visitors to sit.

Two spaces have been identified within the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital as the sites for these sculptural interventions. The first site, currently being re-designed, is Edgar Horne Ward, a mixed medical ward that offers specialised care for patients with dementia whilst also treating the injuries and illness that requires a hospital stay. For this sensitive site, Andrews is proposing curved sound screening shelves that hold a series of tactile sculptures inspired by Montessori toys, which will enable patients to experience joy in the moment through play, and find a way to communicate otherwise unavailable to them.

The second site, an interior public garden also yet to be transformed, will provide visitors and elderly patients with a place to rest or engage in gardening. As smell is the sense that most quickly accesses memory, Andrews has designed a visually stimulating curvilinear structure planted with aromatic herbs. The two ends of the bench sculpture are designed for the herbs to be sat upon using hardy herbs like creeping camomile and thyme whilst herbs such as rosemary, mint, oregano and others would be planted higher up.

Once installed, Andrews' two interactive sculptures will contribute not only to the well-being of hundreds of people who experience them, but will also feed into a three-year research project led by Greg Windall, PHD student at Imperial College on the impact of the arts on the elderly. As there is a steady increase in the numbers of people with dementia - currently affecting 1 in 14 people over the age of 65, in a small way, this award may make a difference.

Tabatha Andrews' winning maquette and proposal can be viewed at the RBS galleries, alongside the FIRST@108 Finalists' proposals until 18 December 2015.

Gallery open Wednesday - Friday 12.30 - 5.30pm (or by appointment) 108 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3RA To find out more about the award, visit: www.rbs.org.uk/awards/first108

The RBS would like to acknowledge the partnership with CW+ and the generous support of the Mirisch & Lebenheim Charitable Foundation for making this award possible.

Notes to editors

About the First@108 Public Art Award:

Initiated in 2009, the First@108 Public Art Award offers sculptors the opportunity to extend their practice into competing for public art commissions. Finalists are taken through the complex public art commissioning process. The winner receives £10,000 towards the cost of producing two large scale sculpture/installations which will be installed in the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, London for a one year period, mentoring from professionals within the industry, and a solo supporting exhibition of their work.

Past winners of the First@108 Public Art Award have gone on to make their mark in the field. Sam Shendi, winner of the 2013 First@108 Award was invited to site his winning sculpture 'Evolution' in Lister Park, Bradford. Winner of the 2011 First@108 Award, Jenske Dijkhuis has exhibited his prize-winning sculpture 'Horizon Pavilion' at the National Theatre on the Southbank and on the Norfolk coast. Suresh Dutt's 'Drawing Cube Blue', which won the 2010 First@108 competition, was purchased by Canary Wharf Group for its Public Art Collection in 2012. Robert Worley's 'Avatar', which received the 2009 First@108 Award, is on permanent display in Westferry Circus, London.

About the Royal British Society of Sculptors:

Committed to the pursuit of excellence in the art form, we aim to inspire, inform and engage people with sculpture/three dimensional art. We offer opportunities to see and experience the extraordinary diversity of contemporary work and to learn from those who make it through our exhibition programme. We support sculptors by providing bursaries to newly emergent sculptors, professional development seminars, a mentoring scheme and a growing number of awards and residencies. Established in 1905 as a not-for-profit company (83239), we are a membership society of 600 + professional sculptors and are a registered charity (212513). We are the oldest and largest organisation dedicated to sculpture in the UK

About Tabatha Andrews:

Tabatha Andrews is a sculptor and installation artist who works with a wide range of materials; from architecture to print, drawing, sound, light and video projection. Her work visualises energy and unsettles the hierarchy of the senses, transforming different sites and contexts, including forests, cathedrals, contemporary architecture and cyberspace. During 2015 she ran an ACE funded project exploring the relationship of sculpture to the senses, involving the blind opera singer Victoria Oruwari and composer John Matthias, with exhibitions at ROOMartspace London and KARST Plymouth. She is a commissioned artist on the 'Bideford Black' project (now showing at Burton Museum and Gallery, Bideford, Devon).

Tabatha Andrews studied at Glasgow School of Art, Slade School of Art and the Skowhegan School of Art, Maine. She was Artist in Residence at Gloucester Cathedral in 2002-3 and has made work for the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, the Whipple Museum of Science in Cambridge, the Monument to the Fire of London and many other venues. She is currently an Associate Lecturer at Plymouth University and teaches on the Dartmoor Arts Project. www.tabathaandrews.co.uk


For more information about the award please visit the website or contact Julie Beech by emailing firstat108@rbs.org.uk.

Newsletter sign up