Author: Sculpture in the City
Author: Sculpture in the City
Sculpture in the City is pleased to announce that artists Jocelyn McGregor and Emii Alrai have been selected for the inaugural Aldgate Square Commission, a biannual commission launched in 2020 to support emerging artists in the UK and the creation of new public artworks for Aldgate Square. McGregor’s artwork will be unveiled in May 2022, followed by Alrai’s sculpture in May 2023.
Jocelyn McGregor uses her own body as a starting point in her artistic practice, which seeks the point of transition between internal and external, real and imagined, natural and synthetic worlds. In May 2022, her work Earthing will be unveiled in Aldgate Square. Earthing imagines a more permeable boundary between the synthetic and the organic within urban spaces. Resembling a crumbling curved section of wall or a dry-stone shelter on a mountain-top, the tactile work features hybrid creatures, from giant snail shells with human limbs to cross-legged snakes. McGregor’s work acts like a fantastical magnifying glass, focusing on the interconnections between our manufactured and natural environments, advocating for a more holistic view of the world. The public will be encouraged to pass through the work as they walk through Aldgate Square, and the open structure and use of stone will provide a habitat for insects.
Jocelyn McGregor, artist, said: “I am absolutely over the moon about winning this commission, and I still can’t quite believe that I’ll be making a public sculpture for Aldgate Square! My hope above all else for how the public will take the work when it is unveiled is for them to feel comfortable around it: comfortable to touch the sculpture, and walk around and through it; and also comfortable to bring their own stories, interpretations, questions and opinions to it. I think it’s these thoughts and feelings that really give an artwork life beyond the studio.”
Emii Alrai is an artist based in Leeds whose work focuses on ancient Middle Eastern mythologies alongside oral histories of Iraq. Her work, Guardian, will be a mythological creature that will be unveiled in Aldgate Square in May 2023. Inspired by Aldgate’s history and the etymology of its name, and drawing on research into the Ancient Gates of Babylon, the work will act as a greeting point to the area. It will be activated by the weather, its surface patinated from exposure to the outdoors, and rainwater draining through holes in the creature’s udders. The sculpture will be emblazoned with decorative elements from drawings made in a community workshop led by the artist over the summer. These symbols will be seen in the exposed side of the work, which along with the fractured appearance of the legs, reflects the idea of archaeological excavation.
Emii Alrai, artist, said: “It feels very shocking and wonderful to be selected for Sculpture in the City, which will mark my first public sculpture commission in the UK, I feel really grateful and lucky to have been considered for this opportunity. I’m really excited to work with the team to develop the proposal of Guardian, to learn and immerse myself in the processes of working with new materials and to showcase work in London. I hope that the public will engage with the questions Guardian hopes to ask, how we value hierarchy, artefacts and value of the natural and built world and how we use objects as ways of retaining and reframing memory.”
The Aldgate Square Commission is a new biannual commission that aims to support emerging artists in the UK. Launched in 2020, an initial group of 12 artists were nominated by members of the Sculpture in the City Arts Advisory Group, which includes: Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican Art Centre; Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery; Wendy Fisher, Collector and Philanthropist; Whitney Hintz, Hiscox Curator; and Andrea Schlieker, Tate Britain; artist Thomas J Price; and Sepake Angiama, Artistic Director, Iniva. After submitting a proposal for a temporary site-specific public artwork for Aldgate Square, which considered the cultural and historical significance of the local area, five artists were shortlisted and given the opportunity to develop their proposals through community workshops during June 2021. The shortlisted artists were Byron Kalomamas, Christina Peake, and Harun Morrison, as well as Jocelyn McGregor and Emii Alrai. The next Aldgate Square Commission will launch in 2022, to select artworks for display in 2024 and 2025.
Zoe Barwick, BID Manager, Aldgate Connect, said: “The Aldgate Connect BID is delighted to support this important new commission in the Square Mile. As we emerge from the pandemic, art and culture can help to welcome people back to the City and allow them to reconnect with the urban environment. I hope the public will enjoy these works and we look forward to seeing how residents, workers and visitors respond to them.”
The Sculpture in the City Aldgate Square Commission is delivered in partnership with Aldgate Connect BID and the City of London Corporation Outdoor Arts Programme.