A group of sculptors from the Royal British Society of Sculptors (RBS) have been selected to display a range of works in the latest phase of Spitalfields E1 public art programme (2013 -2014).

The sculptors are Clare Burnett, Justine Cook, Marigold Hodgkinson, Jane Jobling, Diane Maclean and Graham Guy Robinson. They represent a flourishing cross-section of the current RBS membership.

The varied works encompass both figurative and abstract sculpture. The installations also present a fantastic variety of materials including steel, aluminium, Perspex, feathers and rope.  All works respond to the rich, layered history of Spitalfields. The sculpture and installations are on public view in Spitalfields to the end of October 2014 in and around Bishops Square on and above street level and in the Charnel House below.

Spitalfields E1 is delighted to be working in conjunction with the Royal British Society of Sculptors on this year’s public art programme. The RBS is the oldest and largest organisation dedicated to sculpture in the UK, a membership society of 500+ professional sculptors and a registered charity. Committed to the pursuit of excellence in the art form, it aims to inspire, inform and engage people with sculpture/three dimensional art.

Cecil Balmond

UK Debut of Cecil Balmonds's H_Edge

Until the 3rd October, the critically acclaimed sculpture H_Edge will also be exhibited at Spitalfields. 

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RBS Artworks at Spitalfields 

Intermediate Object

Indeterminate Object draws its form from the idea that ‘permanence is born in flux’. A monument to transience, the orange and mirror-polished steel sculpture is, like Spitalfields, located at a point between the past and the present. An exact replica of familiar orange temporary fencing, it is an object of paradox, both permanent and temporary, absent and present.

In the Jerwood Sculpture Prize 2007 catalogue, The Times Art critic Rachel Campbell-Johnston wrote: "Challenging our preconceptions of outdoor sculpture as solid and monumental, [Graham Guy-Robinson’s] structure seems to question its very status as an object".

Funded by Arts Council England, Indeterminate Object is the latest in a series of ‘temporary fence’ sculptures made by Guy-Robinson since 2003. Previous work from the series has been selected for and exhibited at Jerwood Sculpture Prize, Northern Print Biennale Newcastle and National Sculpture Prize (winner). 

Arts Council England

Guy-Robinson’s studio practice is based at Karst, Plymouth.

  Graham Guy-Robinson

Paper Economy  2013

Paper Economy is a powder-coated steel sculpture consisting of two identical Root 2 rectangles. The sculpture is inspired by the qualities of the A4 rectangle and its ubiquitous use by office workers. The International Paper system (A5, A4 etc.) is based on the Root 2 rectangle. This has the unique quality of retaining its proportions each time it is folded in half. As a result large sheets of paper can be cut in half and half again with little wastage.

Clare Burnett is a London-based artist. She makes pared down, abstract artworks which respond to the context in which they are placed. Her aim is to encourage people to engage visually and conceptually with the spaces and issues around them.

In 2012/13 Burnett had a major solo show at Leighton House Museum, created site-specific sculpture for West Norwood Cemetery and for Meadow Arts at the National Trust's Croft Castle, and exhibited in group shows in London, Leeds and Sussex. She has been a Visiting Lecturer at Central St Martin’s and at Leeds University and has taught in several London schools. She is Vice-President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

  Paper Economy

Rookery  2013

Rookery was a colloquial term given in the 18th and 19th centuries to a city slum. The nickname rookery originated because of the perceived similarities between a city slum and the nesting habits of the rook. Rooks nest in large, noisy colonies consisting of multiple nests, often untidily crammed into a close group of treetops.

The word might also be linked to the slang expression to rook (meaning to cheat or steal), a verb well established in the 16th century and associated with the supposedly thieving nature of the bird. The term was first used in print by the poet George Galloway in 1792. Spitalfields, now a byword for successful regeneration, was notorious for its rookeries in the eighteenth century.

Justine Cook responds to place and site, capturing history and atmosphere. There is a tension to her work, informed by moments in time, drawing out elements from things that have taken place, or are on the brink of happening. Her work lies between things that are in the past and history that is in the making, revealing how recorded history is in constant flux. She aims to reveal the hidden, the lost and the overlooked.  Cook's work is often ephemeral, reflecting her preoccupation with impermanence.


Ruche  2013

Ruche refers to the rich layering of history in Spitalfields: the Roman burial ground beneath the Charnel House, itself beneath the St Mary Spital hospital site and so on. The compressed layers of the work suggest the passing of time and the more flamboyant flourishes relate to both the Huguenot silk weavers and the vibrant fashion market of today. Spitalfields has a long affiliation with cloth, whether roman tunics, bandages, burial shrouds or bolts of silk. The stainless-steel nuts and bolts that secure the folds are intended to be visible and allude to the industrial heritage of Spitalfields and to the modern cityscape.

Jobling’s work uses sculptural form to explore space and boundaries, responding to the apparent opposition of terms such as ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’, ‘flat’ and ‘curved’, ‘open’ and ‘closed’. Whilst folded forms conceal space and create new layers, other forms are cut to reveal trapped space or resealed to entomb space. The transparency of the material used here reveals hidden layers; the artist’s interest is in what new spaces are created when a flat surface is folded, layered, ruched.


Unknown Man, 1988/2013

At Spitalfields, the medieval Charnel House held the bones of many who had died from disease, violence, hunger, accidental or natural causes, for whose remains there was no longer space in the cemetery, no marker or name. Death was faceless. Today the media confronts us daily with images of the dead; their multiplicity renders them also faceless.

One day in 1985 Diane Maclean was shocked at seeing a newspaper photograph of a soldier blown up in Armagh, on the counter of her local newsagent. Her response was a series of dead figures, initially using steel sheet from crashed cars. The welds were tidy and the surfaces remained quite smooth. She subsequently turned to aluminium, trying to use it in a similar way, welding small pieces together to make a larger form. Destroying the aluminium in the process unexpectedly brought the result she had sought. Somehow, the cruel treatment she had meted out to the aluminium, buckling and melting it in her struggle, gave pathos to the figure and a kind of reality. 

Maclean initially envisaged encasing Unknown Man in an open container. Much better for the sculpture to lie inside the Charnel House itself, where it seems to belong.

Maclean thinks of herself as both sculptor and an environmental artist. She generally works on a large scale in close co-operation with engineers. The materials she uses have great importance in her work. She allows industrial materials to respond to nature and natural phenomena, through the use of reflection, movement driven by wind, colour created by light, and recorded natural sound. 

After an early career as a portrait artist when the human form was the subject of her work, Maclean’s three dimensional oeuvre evolved from large-scale sculptures of parts of the body to interpretations of wind, water and landscape. Living abroad, mostly in Africa, for 15 years and working regularly in North America meant many flights across land and sea, seeing the world from the air, enabling Maclean to find shapes that reoccur. Sculptural ideas originate from the natural world, or, if for a public art commission, also from the history and nature of a specific place.

  Unknown Man

I Goat

The winning design of the Spitalfields Sculpture Prize 2010, Kenny Hunter's hand-sculpted goat stands atop a stack of packing crates to create the 3.5metre high I Goat, which was inspired by Spitalfields' rich, ongoing social history.

"Goats are associated with non-conformity and being independently-minded. That is also true of London, its people and never more so than in Spitalfields." said artist Kenny Hunter at the official unveiling on 20 January 2011.

Scottish sculptor Hunter beat seven other shortlisted designs to win the £45,000 commission. Hunter is known for his monumental sculptures and his works have been exhibited worldwide.


  I Goat

A Pear and a Fig

Ali's bronze is not just a simple reminder of the days of the market: A Pear and a Fig is a still life, the fruits of which are shown ripe and ready to eat. The fabric and the block create the composition; these fruits are not casual windfalls. Artists have depicted still-lifes since the time of the Romans, as a celebration and a reminder of the opulence that came with commerce.

  A Pear and a Fig