Friends Annual Sculpture Award
For a number of years the Friends have sponsored a Sculpture prize, giving the chance for a student to display a work in the Park for a year. Initially championed by Tom Maxwell, and more recently organised by former RCA graduate and Friends committee member Steve Bunn.
A History of Sculpture
There is a long and varied history of sculpture being exhibited in Battersea Park. In 1948 there was a huge exhibition of contemporary work. This was followed by major exhibitions, all staged in the Sub Tropical Garden, in 1951, 1960, 1963 and 1966.
In 1960 A.H. Gerrard’s “Sculptured Wall” could be seen (see Review No. 41). Then again in 1963. In 1995 Antonia Spowers’ exhibition of sculpture could be seen in the Pump House and also by the lake. More recently, interest has been revived by the Henry Moore exhibition at the Pump House and the last four Sculpture Awards organised by the Friends. Photographs of these recent sculptures can be seen in Reviews 33, 37, 42 and 46.Some would argue that the three giants among British garden sculptors in the 20th century were Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Elizabeth Frink. We are fortunate indeed in having permanent examples of the first two.
The War Memorial by Eric Kennington is also a significant example of its type. Among lost or returned sculptures the three Epstein “Totem Poles”, as they have been called, are now back at the Tate Gallery. Other lost sculptures include the two remarkable horses shown in Review No. 45, and the original anti-vivisection memorial. The original was removed by the then Metropolitan Council and its replacement put in the Woodland Walk (see Review No. 31).
Henry Moore’s “Three Standing Figures” can be seen on a small mound facing the lake at the corner of the Sub-Tropical Garden. Moore (1898-1986) had his first one-man show in 1941.
Just seven years later there was a retrospective of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was at about this time that his sculptures started to get much bigger, and we have an early example (1948) of his monumental work. The three figures seem to be dreamily looking across the lake.
The position of these sculptures with respect to their background and what angles they could be viewed from would not have been taken lightly. It is important for encroaching vegetation to be held in check so as not to interfere with how they were intended to be seen. Henry Moore said the positioning of a piece in a landscape was vital. Jasmine Mitchell’s preference was for sculpture of a more classical figurative style. Her editorial notes on modern sculpture in old Reviews left little to the imagination. Although classical figures abound in the gardens of private houses they are rarer in public parks and have been almost non-existent in ours. Some figure or relief correctly sited might be a suitable memorial to her immense hard work and great love of the Park.