Public Art Commission: Artists announced

A sculpture incorporating recycled waste materials will be installed at the University of Reading as part of a wider public art project.

Artist duo Ben Cain and Tina Gverovic have been awarded a commission of £40,000 to create a sculpture for the University, inspired by its history, research interests and communities, and responding to the theme of ‘library’.

The colourful concrete sculpture, called ‘Metamorphic Station’, will incorporate waste materials like glass and other objects generated on campus, and will be located in the new library quad on the Whiteknights campus. It will provide a multifunctional space for students and staff to rest or work as well as for teaching and exhibiting.

Professor Robert Van de Noort, University of Reading Vice-Chancellor, said: “This sculpture is in keeping with our commitment to provide new and creative ways for our University community to connect socially and academically. The use of recycled materials will be visible evidence of our mission to reduce our carbon footprint as an institution.

“The sculpture also represents the value we place on arts and humanities at Reading. The artistic piece will act as a melting pot between different disciplines and colleagues across the University.”

Ben Cain and Tina Gverovic write:

“Sedimentation, bog-bodies, petrification, extinction, geological core-samples, the omni-present remains of everyday forms of production and consumption, these are some of the things we thought about as developed a plan for a public sculpture that functions as a social space, one which is formed from recyclable waste sourced in the immediate vicinity of the proposed work.

The sculpture, which is understood in part as a library of materials and processes and a site for presenting and discussing material research, incorporates stages, seating, tables and display units that are fabricated from treated materials gathered on site such as plastics, paper and glass. These materials will be mixed with other aggregates and binding materials to form solid forms.

The different types of material mixes will be developed through conversation and practical experiments with staff and students at Reading University, and the recyclable waste material will be selected and gathered with support from the Sustainability Services department on campus. Similar to a core-sample, the sculpture is a physical record of contemporary material realities. It’s also an attempt to consider concrete, waste, and various art/design/building materials in terms of multiple use and multiple purpose.

The work is a continuation of aspects of our work which merge objects and social spaces, and which set up encounters with discrete appearances of contemporary social and political realities.”

The sculpture is the first of a number of art installations planned for the University’s campuses in a £200,000 public art project. The project aims to enhance public spaces and communities on campus and build relationships with visitors through commissioning bespoke art pieces across campus. These are funded by a 1% levy on all major capital spend, creating a Public Art Endowment, ensuring more artwork can be commissioned in future.

The artists will now begin further design and research on their piece, including inviting input from students and academics through engagement activities and exhibitions. They are already in contact with staff from the School of Art, School of the Built Environment and Sustainability Services to utilise academic and staff expertise. The sculpture is planned to be installed by spring 2020.

A total of 54 artists expressed an interest following the University’s open call, before the Public Art Steering Group considered a final shortlist of ideas.

The chosen artists have 20 years’ experience of commissions in the UK and internationally, including Croatian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, Busan Biennale (South Korea), Wiels (Brussels), Tate Modern, Manifesta 09 (Genk, Belgium).


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