2015 First@108 Public Art Award: Memory

30 July 2015


The First@108 Public Art Award was established by the Royal British Society of Sculptors in 2008 with two main aims: to support the development of sculptors’ professional and creative practice helping them to gain a track record in the highly competitive field of public art, and to commission innovative new sculpture for the public realm which seeks to either entertain, enlighten, engage or challenge audiences. The previous four awards demonstrated that these aims were achievable, and we are now looking forward to seeing what the next award brings. 

This year, for the first time, the Society is partnering with CW+ (the charity for Chelsea & Westminster Hospital) to deliver the 2015 FIRST@108 Public Art Award. CW+ exists to make care better for patients and their families, bringing together pioneering research, innovation, art and design to transform the experience and outcomes for thousands of people every day. 

There is significant and mounting evidence to support the importance of the arts in health and recovery. Questions as to the appropriate form of art are the subject of intense debate and research and there are many ways in which well-chosen work could add to a positive experience of a hospital. The challenge is to create work that responds sensitively to the complex environment and architectural backdrop of a hospital. 

Two sites have been identified within the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital as the site/s for the 2015 Award. 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. The second site is an interior garden, also yet to be transformed, which will provide visitors and elderly patients with a welcome change of scene from the ward - becoming a place they can sit and talk, be involved with gardening, read, or simply sit quietly and contemplate. 

Like most public art commissions we have given the 2015 Award a theme which is open to multiple interpretations. This award’s theme, due to the nature of the particular audience, is ‘memory’, a fascinating topic which relates to absolutely everybody, forming our identity and experience of life. 

Trystan Hawkins, Arts Director at CW+ says: “We are delighted to be working with the Royal British Society of Sculptors to deliver this exiting award. We are looking forward to adding the winner’s two site-specific sculptures to our ever expanding art collection within the hospital, for patients, families and staff to enjoy.” 

Following an open call for submissions, five sculptors have been shortlisted who proposed a variety of sensitive interpretations to the theme. They now have two months to develop their ideas before they will present their proposals and maquettes in the RBS Gallery from 8 October – 18 December where the public will be encouraged to cast their vote before the winner is selected by a jury of arts and health professionals. Congratulations to Tabatha Andrews, Sadie Brockbank MRBS, Stathis Dimitriadis, Mark Doyle and Briony Marshall MRBS. 

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

For more information about the award please visit www.rbs.org.uk/awards/first108 or contact Julie Beech by emailing firstat108@rbs.org.uk.

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 CW+, The Art + Science of Patient Care 

We exist to make care better for patients and their families. From our base at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital we bring together pioneering research, innovation, art and design to transform the experience and outcomes for thousands of people every day - in our hospital, in the wider community and all around the world. 

We do this by: 

  • Delivering an award-winning art and design programme to transform the hospital environment and experience for patients, families, volunteers and staff.
  • Raising funds for education, training and ground-breaking research to identify new life saving treatments and illness prevention for babies, children and adults. 
  • Investing in financially sustainable innovations, facilities and technologies which improve clinical outcomes for patients.
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