Sculptures join Art UK online archive

Art UK, the charity set up to record forgotten art held in public collections but now available on its website, has today added the first of 150,000 sculptures to its archive.

The programme is the largest sculpture cataloguing project ever undertaken in the UK, and by its completion in 2020 Britain will be the first country to have created an online showcase of it publicly owned sculpture.

“Seeing the nation’s sculpture collection online will prompt a re-examination of some of the burning issues affecting society today, raising complex questions” said Andrew Ellis, director of Art UK. “Why are there so few sculptures of women, and what is being done to redress the balance? Is it time to re-think how we display female nude sculptures in the post-#MeToo era? Howe do we talk about the difficult legacies of slavery and colonialism in Britain when sculptures commemorate those who profited from them? With the backdrop of Brexit, what does our sculpture say about us as a nation?”


The first records include August Rodin’s Eve, outside Nando’s in Harlow, Essex (main image); Sir Jacob Epstein’s head of the Italian heiress and arts patron Marchesa Luisa Casati, and Yinka Shonibare’s Untitled (Dollhouse).

The value of the project is put at £5.2m, with £2.8m coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the sculpture joins 200,000 oil paintings already digitised. A major partner has been the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association to photograph outdoor sculpture.

“Public sculpture is the most democratic way to share art” said Art UK’s patron for 2019, Yinka Shonibare. “It transcends race, class or economic status.”

Print Email