Public Art (Sculpture) 1945-1985
41 public sculptures created in the post-war period 1945 to 1985 have recently been listed. This work was part of our strategic project to promote the enjoyment and protection of fixed sculptural artworks in public spaces.
What post-war sculptures did we look at?
After extensive research we assessed a total of 47, resulting in the addition of 41 post-war public sculptures to the List (officially known as the National Heritage List for England). The 41 newly listed pieces capture the mood of post-war public feeling. They depict a range of themes from the celebration of industry in northern England such as mining and wool, to the importance of family, play and even a commemoration to children killed in the Blitz.
These sculptures, most listed at Grade II and some Grade II*, were designed to bring our public spaces back to life after the Second World War as England began to repair its shattered towns and cities. The art was created for everyone, to humanise and enrich our streets, housing estates, work places, shopping centres, explanding universities and schools.
In addition to the 41 that we listed as part of the project, we have also recently listed the Octo Sculpture, Milton Keynes.
Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch said: “It is only right that these fantastic pieces are listed. Not only are they magnificent sculptures but they are also an important part of our history, capturing the mood of Britain after WWII.”
What sculptures are now listed?
- 2MS Series No. 1, Milton Keynes (1968 by William Mitchell)
- 3B Series No. 1, Coventry (1968 by Bernard Schottlander)
- A Celebration Engineering Sciences, Leeds (1963, designed by Allan Johnson, fabricated by Alec Dearnley)
- Augustus John Statue, Hampshire (1964-67 by Ivor Roberts-Jones)
- Construction in Aluminium, Cambridge (1967 by Kenneth Martin)
- Curved Reclining Form (Rosewall), Chesterfield (1960-62 by Dame Barbara Hepworth)
- Declaration, Loughborough (1961 by Phillip King)
- Donkey, Harlow (1955 by Willi Soukop)
- Draped Woman, London (c1959 by Karel Vogel)
- Eagle Squadron Memorial, London (1985 by Dame Elisabeth Frink)
- Father Courage, Canterbury (1960 by F E McWilliam)
- Gorilla, London (1961 by David Wynne)
- Help!, Harlow (1976 by F E McWilliam)
- Horse and Rider, London (1975 by Elisabeth Frink)
- Knife Edge Two Piece, London (1962-64, erected 1967, by Henry Moore)
- London Pride, London (by Frank Dobson, cast in bronze in 1987 from a plaster cast of 1950-51)
- Portrait of Elisabeth Frink, Harlow (1956 by F E McWilliam)
- Prisoner of War Memorial, London (c1967-69 by Fred Kormis)
- Relief of Boys Playing Football, London (1951-52 by Peter Laszlo Peri)
- Relief of Mother and Children Playing, London (1951-52 by Peter Laszlo Peri)
- Following the Leader (Memorial to the Children killed in the Blitz), London (1949 by Peter Laszlo Peri)
- Revolving Torsion, London (1975 by Naum Gabo)
- Ritual, London (1968-69 by Antanas Brazdys)
- Sigmund Freud Statue, London (c1970 by Oscar Nemon)
- Single Form, London (by Dame Barbara Hepworth, cast in 1961-62 and erected in 1963-64)
- South of the River, London (1975-76 by Bernard Schottlander)
- St Thomas a Becket, London (1970-71 by E Bainbridge Copnall)
- The Lesson, London (1956-57 by Franta Belsky)
- The Miner, St Helens (1964 by Arthur Fleischmann)
- The Pan Statue, London (by Sir Jacob Epstein, sculpted in 1957-59 and erected in 1961)
- The Preacher, London (1961 by Peter Laszlo Peri)
- The Spirit of Electricity, London (1958-61 by Geoffrey Clarke)
- The Story of Wool, Ilkley (1968 by William Mitchell)
- The Symbol of Discovery, Chichester (1963 by John Skelton)
- Untitled [Listening], London (1983-84 by Antony Gormley)
- Ventilation Shaft Cover, London (1982 by Eduardo Paolozzi)
- Wild Boar, Harlow (1969 by Elisabeth Frink)
- Winged Figure, London (1963 by Dame Barbara Hepworth)
- Winston Churchill Statue, London (1958-59 by David McFall)
- Witch of Agnesi, London (1959, by F E McWilliam, installed in 1960)
- Zemran, London (1971 by William Pye, installed in 1972)
What sculptures were not listed?
- Clarion, London (1981 by Phillip King)
- Construction (Crucifixion), Winchester, Hampshire (1966-67 by Barbara Hepworth)
- East Sussex County Hall sculptural relief, Lewes, East Sussex (1968 by William Mitchell)
- Family of Man, Suffolk (1968 by William Mitchell)
- San Marco Horse, Jesus College, Cambridge (1983 by Barry Flanagan)
In addition, we were asked to clarify the listing status of Epidauros II cast by Dame Barbara Hepworth. The work was sited on the Malakoff terrace, overlooking St Ives, in 1973 by Hepworth and placed on loan to St Ives Borough Council. The loan has been extended by the Hepworth Estate to the Council since Hepworth's death in 1975. Based on our advice, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport decided to remove the sculpture from the National Heritage List for England. Further details are contained in a statement we have issued on the Delisting of Epidauros II.
Dr Sophie Bowness, on behalf of the Hepworth Estate, said: “We are absolutely committed to keeping ‘Epidauros’ in the beautiful site overlooking St Ives that Hepworth chose for it in 1973. De-listing will enable us to offer the sculpture to the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu system. If accepted, 'Epidauros' would remain in perpetuity in this historic site."
- Out There: Our Post War Public Art: a public exhibition was held at Somerset House, London (3 February -10 April 2016) and will open in Bessie Surtees House, Newcastle, in early autumn
- We published an Introduction to the Heritage Asset for post war public art in January 2016. This is an accessible, authoritative, well-illustrated summary of our current understanding of this particular type of heritage asset
- We will publish an expanded section about public art (sculpture) in our Commemorative Structures Listing Selection Guide – our detailed guidance about what may be eligible for listing
Roger Bowdler, Director of Listing at Historic England said: “These sculptures were commissioned and created for everybody and have become a precious national collection of art which we can all share. They enrich our lives, bring art to everyone and deserve celebration. We have worked with the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, Tate, and the Twentieth Century Society throughout this project to ensure our most special public art is protected and continues to enhance our public spaces.”
Sculptures on loan
We discovered through the consultation process for this project that a small number of public sculptures under assessment were on loan. This introduced the question of whether a loaned sculpture can be listed. The listability of a sculpture rests primarily on whether it constitutes a building in law.
The approach to whether a sculpture constitutes a building or remains a chattel should be first to consider whether it is on loan, and then to examine its degree of annexation to the land as well as the purpose behind why the sculpture was placed in that location. Where a sculpture is loaned for a particular exhibition or for a particular period (even a very long one) it will almost certainly remain a chattel and is therefore incapable of being listed. There are some areas where further consideration is required, such as if a sculpture is on indefinite loan or if it appears to be placed on a permanent basis (for example, integrated into the design of a building) but these will be considered on a case by case basis.
A recommendation not to list does not necessarily mean that the sculpture lacks intrinsic interest. If in the future the ownership situation changes and the sculpture becomes more settled, then it could be reassessed for listing.
Also of interest...
See some of the hundreds of historic treasures that we have protected through listing in the last year.
An overview of what listing is and why Historic England does it.
Our selection guides help us to recommend whether or not a site should be added to the List.
England's national collection of post-war public art is under threat. We need your help to protect it.