BBC News

The bright red work of art (and 40 others) now protected

By Paul Kerley
BBC News Magazine

image copyrightHistoric England

They were designed to bring public spaces back to life after World War Two - it was art for everyone. Now dozens of post-war sculptures are being given listed status.

The bright red, welded steel structure above - at Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire - appears to defy gravity and the rules of balance.

It was created in 1970 by Bernard Schottlander. He fled Nazi Germany in 1939 for Leeds, where he worked in a factory as a welder while attending evening classes in sculpture.

Working with Historic England, the government has now given his sculpture added protection.

Scroll down and see the 40 other artworks granted Grade II or Grade II* status across England.

Knife Edge Two Piece by Henry Moore, 1967

Westminster, London

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This piece is typical of the monumental abstract bronze sculptures that characterised the late career of Moore - one of England's most important avant-garde artists.

Untitled [Listening] by Antony Gormley, 1983-84

Maygrove Peace Park, north-west London

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This is one of Gormley's first public sculpture commissions and his first to be listed - as it is now over 30 years old.

It shows a human figure cupping its ear to listen.

Rooted to a huge granite boulder, it embodies the relationship between the interior world of the human body and its surroundings.

Revolving Torsion by Naum Gabo, 1975

St Thomas' Hospital, central London

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In the garden of St Thomas' Hospital, across the river from the Houses of Parliament, these abstract curved steel plates form a fountain and used to revolve.

South of the River by Bernard Schottlander, 1975-76

Lambeth, south London

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These sweeping curves of stainless steel - south of Waterloo Station - are said to be based on a pair of large, twisted bronze earrings worn by Fulani women in Africa as part of their marriage rituals.

Father Courage by FE McWilliam, 1960

University of Kent in Canterbury

3B Series No 1 by Bernard Schottlander, 1968

University of Warwick

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FE McWilliam's totemic Father Courage embodies themes explored by several sculptors in this period of political and social change.

Its name refers to the play Mother Courage by Berthold Brecht, which denounced the horrors of war.

Schottlander's 3B Series No 1 is a large scale abstract collection of bright red geometric shapes.

The university's architects Yorke, Rosenberg and Mardall commissioned art to complement their buildings. Rosenberg felt his "white tile buildings needed colour and visual stimulus".

Declaration by Phillip King, 1961

Beaumanor Hall, Leicestershire

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Phillip King spent a year as an assistant to Henry Moore in the late 1950s.

He came to prominence in the 1960s as a member of the group of young British sculptors known as the New Generation.

Winston Churchill Statue by David McFall, 1958-59

Woodford, east London

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This bronze sculpture - depicting the UK's wartime prime minister in his later years - can be found in the old Woodford constituency which Churchill served as MP from 1945 until 1964.

Churchill attended the unveiling and reportedly liked McFall's creation.

Relief of Boys Playing Football by Peter Laszlo Peri, 1951-52

Following the Leader by Peter Laszlo Peri, 1949

Relief of Mother and Children Playing by Peter Laszlo Peri, 1951-52

Vauxhall, south London

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Hungarian Peri was largely ignored by the 20th Century British art establishment, which some have attributed to his communist leanings.

These three works were commissioned in the austerity years after WW2 on a social housing estate, with Following the Leader created as a poignant dedication to children who lost their lives in the Blitz.

The Miner by Arthur Fleischmann, 1964

St Helens, Merseyside

Construction in Aluminium by Kenneth Martin, 1967

University of Cambridge

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Fleischmann's miner incorporates a cutting drum - a genuine piece of mining machinery - and celebrates the technical advances in mining and the strength of man.

Originally commissioned by the National Coal Board for its north-west headquarters, it now stands near to the closed Ravenhead Colliery.

On the right, Martin's creation is the monumental culmination of his Oscillation series, inspired by the physics of pendulums combined with jazz and other music rhythms.

This particular piece is the visual representation of the mathematical formula of jet propulsion, and was made in the workshop of the University of Cambridge's engineering department.

A Celebration of Engineering Sciences by Allen Johnson, 1963

University of Leeds

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The crowning glory of the Mechanical Engineering Building at the University of Leeds, the dynamic shapes symbolise the struggle between man and machine.

It is made from lightweight glass fibre-reinforced polyester (GFRP) shaped from handmade clay moulds.

The Story of Wool by William Mitchell, 1968

Ilkley, West Yorkshire

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Made from glass-reinforced plastic, this is a stylised flock of sheep complete with careful detailing of their curled horns, cloven hooves and thick fleeces.

It was commissioned for the new Technical Centre of the International Wool Secretariat, an organisation established to promote the use and trade of wool in response to the increased use of synthetic fibres in the mid 20th Century.

The Symbol of Discovery by John Skelton, 1963

Chichester, West Sussex

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A pair of large, rough-hewn hands emerge from cobbled ground clasping a precious golden stone.

The piece was designed as part of a restoration project that transformed nearby redundant buildings into a museum.

The Leaning Woman by Karel Vogel, 1959

Hammersmith, west London

The Preacher by Peter Laszlo Peri, 1961

Forest Gate, east London

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Both these examples appear gravity-defying.

Vogel's Leaning Woman is tilted and twisted into an intriguing arrangement of parts, so it can be viewed from several sides.

Peri's Preacher - a striking, long-limbed figure grasping a prayer book - is made up of a dark, textured mix of concrete, resin and metallic powders developed by Peri and dubbed Pericrete.

Lesson by Franta Belsky, 1956-57

Bethnal Green, east London

Gorilla by David Wynne, 1962

Crystal Palace Park, south London

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Family groups were a popular theme for public space artworks in post-war Britain, and it was a sketch of his friend teaching her adventurous baby son to walk that inspired Czech-born artist Belsky.

Wynne's hulking marble sculpture depicts Guy the Gorilla, a popular resident at London Zoo and something of a national treasure from the 1950s through to his death in 1978.

Rosewall (Curved Reclining Form) by Barbara Hepworth, 1960-62

Chesterfield, Derbyshire

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This was named after a hill in Cornwall which is surrounded by ancient stones worn by the weather.

"The stone is myself," Hepworth said, "looking out to the Atlantic with the sound and smell of the sea."

Winged Figure by Barbara Hepworth, 1963

Oxford Street, central London

Single Form (Memorial) by Barbara Hepworth, 1961-62

Battersea Park, south London

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Hepworth's Winged Figure is an Oxford Street landmark.

Unusually, it is in the same position and context for which it was originally intended as a commission - for the John Lewis department store.

Single Form was Hepworth's personal response to the death of her friend, the UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold - who was killed in a plane crash while on a peace mission.

It was the model for a much larger version outside the United Nations Secretariat building in New York.

Zemran by William Pye, 1971

South Bank, central London

London Pride by Frank Dobson, 1951

South Bank, central London

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Zemran is part of Pye's series of geometric sculptures made in tubular stainless steel.

Dobson's London Pride - two serene, voluptuous female figures - was commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Originally made of plaster and finished in gun metal - which reflected post-war austerity - it was recast in 1986 in bronze at the behest of Dobson's widow.

Horse and Rider by Elisabeth Frink, 1975

Piccadilly, central London

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Figurative sculptures of animals dominated Frink's work, and this man and horse is now found surrounded by coffee shop tables, opposite The Ritz.

Donkey by Willi Soukop, 1955

Harlow, Essex

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This little donkey stands at the heart of a housing scheme in Harlow - one of the post-war new towns.

It was created to encourage children to explore art through play - the donkey's back has been worn to a shine.

Help! by FE McWilliam, 1976

Portrait of Elisabeth Frink by FE McWilliam, 1956

Wild Boar by Elisabeth Frink, 1970

Harlow, Essex

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The left-side image depicts two women caught in a bomb blast, holding a banner with the word "HELP".

McWilliam was Northern Irish and he created Help! in response to the Troubles there - with particular reference to the bombing of a Belfast tea room in March 1972.

When Elisabeth Frink was asked why FE McWilliam's life-size bronze portrait of her carried no inscription, she remarked "one can't be labelled until one is dead".

Frink's own Wild Boar sculpture was one of her first major public commissions for the pioneering Harlow Art Trust.

Sigmund Freud Statue by Oscar Nemon, 1970

Hampstead, north London

Statue of Artist Augustus John by Ivor Robert-Jones, 1964-67

Fordingbridge, Hampshire

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Created by Croatian-born artist Oscar Nemon, the bronze sculpture of the founder of psychoanalysis is a public memorial to him and his residence in this part of north London.

On the right, the portrayal of the eminent artist Augustus John sits on the banks of the River Avon in Fordingbridge - where he lived for the latter part of his life.

Ritual by Antanas Brazdys, 1968-69

City of London

Ventilation Shaft Cover by Eduardo Paolozzi, 1982

Pimlico, central London

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Brazdys' seemingly gravity-defying set of weighty, stainless steel forms appear effortlessly balanced on top of each other.

It was one of the first abstract works of public sculpture in the City of London.

Paolozzi's interest in machines and technology influenced his work, and this cast metal sculpture covers a London Underground ventilation shaft.

The Spirit of Electricity by Geoffrey Clarke, 1961

Westminster, central London

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This sharp, dynamic sculpture cast in bronze originally lit up.

Commissioned by Thorn Electrical Industries for their headquarters in London, it is said Clarke came up with the design after studying old light bulb filaments.

Witch of Agnesi by FE McWilliam, 1959

University of Greenwich, south-east London

St Thomas a Becket by Edward Bainbridge Copnall, 1973

St Paul's Cathedral , City of London

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Witch of Agnesi hovers like an apparition above a still pool of water, where its varied forms are reflected and distorted.

The title refers to a mathematical curve defined by Maria Agnesi, an 18th Century Italian Mathematician.

Bainbridge Copnall's work depicts Thomas Becket at the moment of his murder inside Canterbury Cathedral.

It was created to mark the 800th anniversary of his martyrdom.

Pan Statue by Jacob Epstein, 1958-59

Knightsbridge, London

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Also known as Rush of Green, this work depicts a family and their dog rushing eagerly towards Hyde Park.

They are urged on by Pan - the Greek god of the wild, shepherds and flocks.

Eagle Squadrons Memorial by Elisabeth Frink, 1985

Mayfair, central London

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Atop an obelisk in Grosvenor Square Gardens sits an American Eagle.

It commemorates 244 US citizens - plus 16 British fighter pilots and other personnel - who served in three RAF Eagle Squadrons prior to the participation of the US in WW2.

Prisoner of War Memorial by Fred Kormis, 1967-69

Dollis Hill, north London

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Kormis explored the themes of freedom and captivity. Here, he created five male prisoners, each in a different stage of emotional turmoil.

German-born Kormis was himself a prisoner-of-war during World War One. He and his wife fled to the UK when Hitler came to power in the 1930s,

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Related Topics

  • Art
  • Listed buildings
  • Photography
  • Statues and sculptures