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14 November 2007 PR 07/144

Loughborough sculptor selected to create artwork for Beijing Olympics

Loughborough University sculptor John Atkin has been selected from a worldwide field of 2,600 applicants to create a sculpture for Olympic Park – the heart of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. John is the only British artist to have been chosen.

Twenty five artists, selected by a panel of eminent judges, have been commissioned by the Beijing Municipal Government to produce artworks that reflect the 2008 Olympic theme of ‘One World, One Dream’. The sculptures will form a major, public exhibition as part of the Olympic Games celebrations, sited alongside some of the most celebrated architectural achievements in the world.

John’s artwork has been inspired by the Wilfred Owen poem ‘Strange Meeting’, which recounts a surreal encounter between two dead soldiers who had fought on opposing sides. No longer enemies they find it possible to see beyond conflict and hatred in a shared awareness of “the truth untold”.

Carved from granite and marble, the sculpture consists of two identical shapes, echoing the human figure and derived from garment templates. One form is positioned upright, the other lying down. The space between the two sections frames views of the surrounding spaces and also allows people to walk through the sculpture.

Once completed the artwork will measure 3.5 metres in height, width and depth and will weigh 27 tons.

“The opportunity to work on such a large-scale sculpture and use a completely fresh range of materials has been particularly exciting,” says John, who is a Reader in Fine Art within the University’s School of Art and Design. “The marble and granite sections of the artwork are normally beyond the scope of what’s possible here in the UK, so it’s been invigorating to realise a sculpture using such large sections of both materials.”

He adds: “The Chinese work force were tremendous – their attention to detail and ability to translate the subtle shifts in form of the sculpture was a remarkable achievement. It was also great to meet a number of artists from other parts of the world at the conference that was organised by the Chinese Sculpture Society, and exchange views and opinions within a well-organised event.

“I hope this is the start of an ongoing relationship between the East and the West, sports sciences and the arts.”

The sculpture exhibition will be open to the public in May 2008.

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Notes for editors:

  1. An image of how John’s completed sculpture will look is available. Please contact Hannah Baldwin, T: 01509 222239, E: H.E.Baldwin@lboro.ac.uk

  2. About John Atkin
    John Atkin studied painting at Leicester Polytechnic before being personally invited by Henry Moore to visit his studios at Much Hadam. Moore was impressed by Atkin’s work and funded his postgraduate study at the Royal College of Art.

    Atkin has exhibited extensively in England, Europe, Australia and the United States, including at the Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne (formerly Heide Park and Art Gallery), The Kouros Gallery in New York, and The Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. He has received awards from the British Council and Australian Councils and is currently the recipient of a Rootstein Hopkins Award for Drawing.

    Atkin has also been invited to complete several high profile public commissions throughout the UK and worldwide. As well as public art commissions, he has in depth experience of working with architects and urban designers on major urban regeneration projects, such as the Breaking Boundaries project – winner of the Landscape Institute Award 2007 – for Kent County Council in Ashford.

    Further details of John Atkin’s work can be found at www.johnatkin.net

  3. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    In the 2007 National Student Survey, the University was voted fourth in the UK, with 23 out of 29 of Loughborough’s subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. Loughborough is also ranked in the top fifteen of UK universities in national league tables and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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