In January, Dulwich Park Friends staged a well-attended evening devoted to Barbara Hepworth at Alleyn’s School’s Michael Croft Theatre as the decision was awaited in selecting an artist to produce a piece of work to replace Hepworth’s ‘Two Forms – Divided Circle’, stolen in 2011. The programme arranged by Trevor Moore included several short films. Local artist and sculptor Pat Rae explained the process of bronze casting using sand moulds in an interesting film about the life and work of Barbara Hepworth. Another local artist, Heather Burrell, who has designed a new metal entry arch over the Thurlow Park Road entrance to Belair was depicted in the film using hundreds of old shoes in an installation depicting the stolen Hepworth statue. Another film, entitled The Empty Shoes, by film maker Andy Humphreys featured dancers, Nyron Levy and Elizabeth Chong performing in the beautiful setting in Dulwich Park previously occupied by Two Forms in a specially commissioned piece choreographed by Nyron Levy. Chris Stephens of Tate Britain who also works at the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives gave an illustrated talk on the artist. The evening was rounded off with a poetry reading on the loss of the sculpture by Kate Miller.
Councillor Barry Hargreaves representing Southwark Council said that the Council had ring-fenced the £400,000 insurance recovery from the theft and that a steering group had been formed which included Ian Dejardin, Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, Trevor Moore, chair Dulwich Park Friends and Ian McInnes chair of the Dulwich Society.

At the end of January Southwark Council announced its shortlist of four artists:
Recent winner of the prestigious Zurich Art Prize, Ryan Gander; Turner Prize nominee in 2003, Anya Galaccio; Conrad Shawcross whose work “Metamorphosis: Titian 2012” was commissioned as part of the Cultural Olympiad's London 2012 Festival; and internationally acclaimed Eva Rothschild have been selected.

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 was set up to oversee the commission of a new artwork for the park. The steering group have been working alongside the Contemporary Art Society, who were appointed last year to manage the artist commissioning process.

The selected artists now have a period of three months to develop their design proposal. Following this, a public consultation will be held in June 2013 to gauge opinion on each of the art work proposals. Details of the locations for public consultations will be made available in April.

Each artist will be judged on their ability to meet the commissioning principles agreed by both the steering group and the Contemporary Art Society ahead of the public consultation.

Councillor Veronica Ward, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Sport, Olympic Legacy and Volunteering said “We were overwhelmed by the response we had from such amazing talents. Although it was a tough decision to make, we are confident that the shortlist reflects a good pedigree of artists all capable of fulfilling the brief in their own individual way. We look forward to reviewing their individual visions for Dulwich Park and we are pleased to be able to honour the legacy of Barbara Hepworth in this way.”

Fabienne Nicholas, Head of Consultancy, Contemporary Art Society said; “We are delighted to present this strong shortlist of artists for the Dulwich Park Sculpture Commission. Each artist has a varied approach to sculpture: Gallaccio’s site- specific works are concerned with beauty, nature and the passing of time while Gander’s ideas- based practice ranges from installations and sculptures to lectures and publications. Rothschild’s sculpture plays on minimalist traditions whilst exploring architectural and urban space, and Shawcross creates static and moving sculptures which explore geometry, philosophy, physics and metaphysics. The four artists live and work in London, and while each has an international and prolific career none has a permanent sculpture in the city. This list is an illustrious and varied one, befitting of the ground breaking artist of her time, Barbara Hepworth.”

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