Exploring Diversity in Public Sculpture

Klairi Angelou (PMSA - Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, London)

 In recent years, scholarship and society have become increasingly sensitised to the issue of diversity and inclusivity. We believe that questions around the depiction and representation of diversity in public sculpture have become increasingly hard to ignore and should, therefore, be addressed and thoroughly discussed. There may have been an increase in public sculpture commemorating women’s achievements (for example, the statue of Millicent Fawcett in London) and memorials acknowledged by queer culture (for example, Kiss Wall in Brighton), and Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant in Trafalgar Square (2005) may have put disability, femininity and motherhood on the map, but there is still a long way to go. This session aims to promote the value of diversity in sculpture and challenge hegemonic narratives and approaches to it. It will address issues of marginalisation and explore in what ways diversity is understood and reflected in public sculptures.

The papers of this session come from all periods and geographic locations and advocate for interdisciplinary approaches, as well as fresh interpretation of existing knowledge and presentation of new material emerging from research, conservation and archival discoveries. Issues which will be discussed include, but will not be limited to:

  • Queer approaches to public sculpture, as well as perceived politicised uses of queer memorials;
  • Sculpture representing ethnic diversity;
  • How the employment of different materials/techniques is involved in representing diversity;
  • The role of museums and institutions towards diversifying sculpture;
  • Case studies through which gender/sexual/social/national identity is explored and challenged through sculpture.

Open and inclusive in scope, our session will host a range of speakers concerned with broadening the understanding of public sculpture and become the topos of an exciting and challenging discussion, drawing upon a range of diverse sculptural practices.


Viewing Portraits of Pain: The black female body and the white gaze in Carpeaux’s Why Born Enslaved!
Elyse Nelson (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Exploring Diversity in Sculpture and Art on Campus at the University of Edinburgh
Liv Laumenech (University of Edinburgh)

Bestial Forms: Representations of the queer body and its relationship to the grotesque
Niall Billings (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Cultural Value, Celebrity and Public Sculpture in the UK
David Wright (University of Warwick)

Identity Politics and Cultural Hybridity in Zheng Bo’s Sing for Her
Tin Ping Yeung (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Conveying Ethnic Identity and Diversity via Public Sculpture in the Global City
Menno Hubregtse (University of Victoria)



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