Henrietta Lacks sculpture

Sculpture of Henrietta Lacks (1920-51) More than a Cell, 2021. A bronze by Helen Wilson-Roe in Royal Fort Gardens, Bristol. Image: Paul Francis/Art UK/ Helen Wilson-Roe.



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It will soon have recorded 36,000 sculptures while 13,500 public sculptures and monuments are available to view online.

As part of the project, more than 140,000 photographs have been taken of sculptures by artists including Antony Gormley, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth around the UK.

Andrew Ellis, director of Art UK, said: “The UK has a rich and enviable collection of public sculptures. This five-year project to document sculpture in the UK’s outdoor spaces is not only a significant milestone for our charity, but also for anyone who cares about public art or simply wants to find out more about that sculpture they walk past each day.”

Formerly known as the Public Catalogue Foundation, Art UK created a website that has catalogued the thousands of paintings and works on paper which are owned by public institutions.

Art UK began with oil paintings, digitising 200,000 of these, and then extended this to other pictures and works on paper and now to sculpture.

Rodin's Eve

Eve, 1882, bronze by Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) in the Water Gardens in Harlow, Essex. Image: Tracy Jenkins/Art UK.

The works are owned by museums, universities, institutions and local councils

Ellis added: “Our project hasn’t only been confined to outdoor sculpture. We are close to recording all sculptures of the past 1000 years held in public collections. Together, these two huge sculpture recording initiatives will make an enormous contribution to the study of sculpture and public awareness of this great art form. They couldn’t have been achieved without the efforts of our dedicated volunteers, staff and the generous support of our funders, particularly The National Lottery Heritage Fund.”

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded £2.8m to Art UK to make the sculptures digitally available.

Art UK’s next photography digitisation project, subject to funding, will be to record the nation’s outdoor murals.