Press Release: Conrad Shawcross named as Dulwich Park commission winner

21 October 2013 By

For immediate release, 21.10.13

Last year, Southwark Council appointed the Contemporary Art Society to manage the artist commissioning process for a new artwork for Dulwich Park. Following a public consultation and deliberation by the Dulwich Park Commission Steering Group, Conrad Shawcross has been selected to create the new commission, which will honour the original sculpture by Barbara Hepworth.

Shawcross has achieved international recognition for his work – most recently, he won acclaim for his 2013 Timepiece exhibition at the Roundhouse, London, and his work was also displayed at this year’s 55th Venice Biennale. He was the artist in residence between 2009 and 2011 at the Science Museum, London.

His design, Three Perpetual Chords, has been selected from a shortlist also including proposals by artists Anya Galaccio, Ryan Gander and Eva Rothschild. Following a public consultation in which over 400 people gave their views about the new sculpture both online and through an on-site exhibition in the park, the Dulwich Park Commission Steering Group discussed the outcome and came to a consensus to name Shawcross as the artist who best fits the commissioning principles originally set out.

Three Perpetual Chords proposes a series of cast iron sculptures, each created in relation to the mathematical patterns found in music. The artist describes these forms as “visual descriptions of musical chords.” Roughly human height, the sculptures will be sequenced, leading visitors through an unexpected series of encounters in the park.

From the public voters who selected Shawcross as their preferred choice, some comments included:

• “Closest in spirit and form to the Hepworth”
• “It will lead people around the park”
• “It will open up unused (or unexplored) parts of the park”
• “Visual, tactile and spatial”

Conrad Shawcross said: “I am delighted to have been commissioned to create this piece for Dulwich Park and it is an honour to have been selected given the legacy of Barbara Hepworth. The sculptural sequence I have proposed will provide a new route of navigation through what is already a beautiful park, providing opportunities for play, reflection and leisure.”

Fabienne Nicholas, Head of Art Consultancy at the Contemporary Art Society, said: “Conrad’s series of sculptural works will create a new journey through the park – offering a thoughtfully sequenced experience for park visitors. These are sculptures that give not only aesthetic pleasure but something playful too – they, like the Hepworth, invite a human scale interaction.”

Councillor Barrie Hargrove, Cabinet Member for transport, environment and recycling said: “We have been in a very fortunate position to be able to work with four incredibly talented artists and we would like to thank them, and the local community for taking part in this process. Conrad Shawcross’s proposal not only creates an artistic sculpture for the park, but also gives visitors a whole artistic experience as they make their way round.”

Trevor Moore, member of the Friends of Dulwich Park and member of the steering group said: “All of the artists involved in the commission for Dulwich Park produced imaginative proposals that the steering group enthusiastically put out for consultation. I believe the chosen Conrad Shawcross work Three Perpetual Chords will have a powerful impact on visitors to the park, at the same time being a worthy successor to Hepworth’s much-missed Two Forms. Alas, there can be only one successful artist – but I’d like to thank Anya, Eva and Ryan for the time and considerable thought they put into their ideas.”

The work is estimated to reach completion by summer 2014 and updates will be provided throughout the process on

For all press enquiries, including image and interview requests, contact:
Jenny Prytherch, Communications Manager, Contemporary Art Society
+44 (0)20 7017 8412

Image: Conrad Shawcross, Three Perpetual Chords, computer-generated image of sculpture in Dulwich Park © the artist, 2013.


Notes to Editors:


The Contemporary Art Society is a national charity that encourages an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in the UK. With the help of our members and supporters we raise funds to purchase works by new artists which we give to museums and public galleries where they are enjoyed by a national audience; we broker significant and rare works of art by important artists of the twentieth century for public collections through our networks of patrons and private collectors; we establish relationships to commission artworks and promote contemporary art in public spaces; and we devise programmes of displays, artist talks and educational events. Since 1910 we have donated over 8,000 works to museums and public galleries – from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times – championing new talent, supporting curators, and encouraging philanthropy and collecting in the UK.

Forthcoming displays at Contemporary Art Society, 59 Central Street:

*Tip of the Iceberg: Art From Up North (4 Oct – 3 Jan)

*The Eric & Jean Cass Gift (16 Oct – 22 Nov)

*Laure Prouvost (4 Dec – 17 Jan), Artist Talk 12 Dec

*Simon Fujiwara (29 Jan – 28 Feb), Artist Talk 30 January

*PRESS BRIEFING (29 Jan, 9am – 10am)
An exclusive press preview of our Simon Fujiwara display and an opportunity to find out about our displays and initiatives from February 2014. We will be joined by Simon Fujiwara as well as new Contemporary Art Society Director Caroline Douglas. For interview requests for Caroline Douglas, please contact

Key facts about Contemporary Art Society acquisitions:

The Contemporary Art Society is the leading organisation for identifying emerging talent in the UK and has donated many ‘firsts’ to museums across the country throughout its illustrious history, including the first works by Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon and, more recently, the first works by Damien Hirst, Elizabeth Price and 2013 Turner Prize nominee Laure Prouvost.

  • 1910 Contemporary Art Society makes its first purchase, Augustus John’s Smiling Woman, which was later presented to Tate in 1917
  • 1917 Contemporary Art Society gifts Paul Gauguin’s Tahitians to Tate
  • 1933 Contemporary Art Society gifts Pablo Picasso’s Flowers to Tate – the first Picasso ever to be acquired by Tate
  • 1946 The first work by Francis Bacon is purchased, Figure Study II
  • 1967 Henry Moore’s Knife Edge – Two Piece presented to the City of Westminster and permanently sited in Abingdon Street Gardens, London W1
  • 1988 Mark Wallinger’s Lost Horizon is gifted to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent
  • 1992 Damien Hirst’s Forms Without Life is gifted to Tate – the first Hirst ever to be donated to Tate
  • This year (2013-4) the Contemporary Art Society expects to place art worth in excess of £4million into public collections across the UK with the support of our patrons and other stakeholders.


The Contemporary Art Society’s Consultancy team offers independent and expert advice on public art commissioning and cultural strategy and develop outstanding contemporary art collections for companies and private individuals.
With over 30 years of experience in commissioning, curating and project management, our skill is in understanding each client’s needs and creating visionary linkages to the best in contemporary art.  We advise on corporate and private collections internationally and our recent public art projects include major commissions for the Olympic Park, public art strategies for Camden Town, the University of Cambridge and the Waterways Trust.


Following the theft of the Barbara Hepworth sculpture from Dulwich Park in 2011, a steering group made up of Southwark Council representatives and members of Dulwich community groups and organisations was set up to oversee the commission of a new artwork for the park. The steering group has been working alongside the Contemporary Art Society, who were appointed to manage the artist commissioning process.

The Dulwich Park Commission Steering Group is:

Councillor Hargrove – Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Recycling
Councillor Ward – Cabinet member for Culture, Leisure, Sport and the Olympic Legacy
Ian Dejardin – Dulwich Picture Gallery
Ian McInnes – Dulwich Society
Trevor Moore – Dulwich Park Friends
Deborah Collins – London Borough of Southwark Strategic Director of Environment and Leisure
Rachael Roe – London Borough of Southwark Arts Officer
Rebecca Towers – London Borough of Southwark Parks and Open Spaces Manager


Born in 1977, Conrad Shawcross’ static and moving geometric sculptures in wood and metal appear to be scientific and rational, but they each explore subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics. Inspired by failed quests for knowledge of the past, he often appropriates redundant theories and methodologies to create structural and mechanical montages. His work, while systematic, often combines irrational and rational elements to create beautiful, majestic works that bewitch viewers with their design and function. Conrad lives and works in London.

Education: MFA, Slade School of Art, 2001; BA Fine Art, Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, 1999.

Selected Exhibitions: MUDAM Luxembourg, 2012; Turner Contemporary Margate, 2011; The Science Museum, 2011; Pace Gallery, New York, 2010