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Liverpool Sculpture Prize winner unveiled

The winner of the inaugural Liverpool Sculpture Prize has been revealed.

Alan Dunn’s work Ascension will be displayed on the plinth at Liverpool Parish Church for 12 months. And the accolade also comes with £2,500 in prize money.

The competition, organised by Liverpool BID Company and the Parish Church and open to artists from across the UK, replaces the Liverpool Plinth competition for artists from the northwest.

Glasgow-born Dunn has been based in the Liverpool City Region for almost 30 years.

In 1995, when he first moved to Liverpool, he co-created the sculpture RAY + JULIE with his German-born artist wife Brigitte Jurack.

The installation, two low chairs sitting facing each other within concentric circles, was commissioned by Visionfest and the Furniture Resource Centre and installed on London Road. The title was inspired by some nearby graffiti namechecking the mysterious couple.

Ascension takes one of the chairs and repositions it on the Chapel Street plinth while leaving the other alone in London Road which, organisers hope, ‘will remind us of the solace and support that faith brings to the lonely and the forgotten’.

Above: A slide show of RAY + JULE bidding each other farewell in London Road. Photos by Alan Dunn. Top: Ascension at Liverpool Parish Church

Dunn explains: “After we created RAY + JULIE, which was only intended to last for six months until the road was redeveloped, they were adopted by the people of Liverpool in such a beautiful manner.

“Over their 27 years they became the subject of poems, short stories, photographs, a play at the Everyman theatre, a spoken word installation at St George’s Hall and were once described by the Guardian as one of Britain’s Top Ten Secret Sculptures.

“In creating this new work for Liverpool Parish Church, using RAY, we’re also creating another work, JULIE (on her own) in London Road.”

RAY + JULIE was 'decommissioned' by Dunn and Jurack two years ago when the plot of land it stands on was sold for redevelopment, but attempts to find a suitable new home for the artwork have so far come to nothing.

So, Dunn says, when he learned about the Liverpool Sculpture Prize he 'knew it might be beautiful to bring one chair here' and Jurack agreed to the move.

Above: Alan Dunn with RAY + JULIE on the site in London Road. Photo courtesy of the artist.

RAY was cut from his base, and has been coated in a white covering to stand out against the backdrop of the church walls. The chair is 'levitating' above its base, and Dunn hopes lighting could be added to give it an extra spectral quality after dark.

The work was chosen by a judging panel including representatives from Liverpool Parish Church and Liverpool BID alongside artists, curators and arts writers.

Liverpool BID’s Julie Johnson says: “This was a very competitive field with some incredible talented and visionary artists submitting their work for the prize. The work we’ve chosen is, we believe, one that’s fitting for the first recipient of the Liverpool Sculpture Prize as it tells a rich story and is part of the fabric of the city’s folklore.”

Rector of Liverpool Dr Crispin Pailing adds: “Our ambition with the Liverpool Sculpture Prize has been that it creates curiosity and excitement in public and contemporary art, and I believe this work will do just that.”



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