The story behind Cardiff's lost sculpture

  • Published 13 December 2018

We look back at a project which filled UK cities with sculptures, and learn how Chapter arts centre are working to bring one of them back to Cardiff.


King Kong in Birmingham Bull Ring. Fibreglass fingers reaching from a wall in Newcastle. Neon rings floating in Plymouth.

Over a period of six months in 1972, sculptures by artists including Luise Kimme, Liliane Ljin and Nicholas Monro began to pop up in eight cities across the UK.

This was the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation’s City Sculpture Project, an initiative to place large-scale works by living sculptors in busy urban centres. Rather than monuments or memorials, these were works of contemporary art which could be encountered as part of daily life, rather than a gallery or open-air exhibition.

While the sculptures generated plenty of debate, they were not purchased by their host cities when the project came to an end. Many were relocated, sold or even destroyed.

But now, one of these works is at the centre of a campaign to bring it back to its original home – and spark conversation once more.

Garth Evans, model for Cardiff, 1972

Garth Evans, model for Cardiff, 1972

Garth Evans’ sculpture

Manchester-born artist Garth Evans was one of the sculptors who took part in the City Sculpture Project, creating a work for Cardiff that resonated with his Welsh grandfather’s experiences as a miner – its shape being reminiscent of both a hammer-like tool, and a tunnel.

But Evans’ artistic endeavour didn’t end with the making of the sculpture, or its siting in the city centre. He also visited it the morning after its installation to record the comments of passersby, observing how (and if) the work connected with the public.

These captured thoughts offered a snapshot of Cardiff at the time. Today, nearly five decades later, the city's Chapter arts centre want to find out how the public reacts now – which is why they’re crowdfunding to restore Evans’ sculpture, which has deteriorated over time, and return it to the Welsh capital.

Why is it important?

The City Sculpture Project was never simply about providing points of visual interest, but about encouraging us to think about our place in the urban environment – and how art might be able to transform it.

Since we're more accustomed to encountering art in the city today through festivals, commissions and even whole areas designed with art in mind, how do we conceive of public art now? And what kind of feelings might it stir, to see one of the first public works in Wales back 'home'?

In 2018, as in 1972, this project is about the meaning and impact of art in shared space.

How can you help?

To help Chapter relocate the sculpture, carry out the specialist restoration it needs and collect a new set of recordings which gauge people’s thoughts on art in the public realm, you can donate through Art Happens, our crowdfunding platform which gives museums and audiences the opportunity to bring creative projects to life, together.

Every penny raised will help Chapter to reach their £18,000 target – and you can choose from a range of rewards with your donation, from tote bags to a signed etching and even an exhibition tour with the artist.

Find out more about the project – and help make art happen.


Tags: Art Happens