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Public Statues and Sculpture Association


Eligibility Criteria

The Awards are decided on by a Judging Panel made up of individuals (practitioners, academics, conservators, art critics and sculpture specialists) knowledgeable in the fields of public sculpture, fountains and conservation. Its decisions are final.

Any work of public sculpture, any fountain and any conservation project on a work of public sculpture or a fountain may be nominated for an award. Artists or conservators may enter their own work. Entries and Nominations must be received by midnight on Sunday 7 April 2024. Late entries may exceptionally be accepted at the discretion of the Judging Panel.

The Judging Panel will consider each work put forward to assess whether it meets all of the eligibility criteria relevant to its category. If it does, the Panel will consider the relative merits of each against the judging criteria.

In assessing the works entered or nominated, the Judging Panel will rely on information provided to support the submission, other information available in the public domain and observations from site visits made by members of the Panel.

Entries and nominations must be made by or for the artist or designer, in the case of new works of public sculpture or fountains or, in the case of conservation, the conservator. In cases where the artistic concept or design was the product of collaboration between artists/designers, or where the client or craftsmen were involved, then the award may be shared. Similarly, the Conservation Award may be shared if it involved a multidisciplinary approach.

The nominated artists, designers or conservators must be aged 18 or over on the day the submission is made.

The entry or nominated work

  1. must be either:
    A work of sculpture - whether a new work or the conservation of an existing work.
    For the purposes of the Marsh Awards a work of public sculpture is defined as:-
    A work in the public realm, which may be representational and non-representational, freestanding or relief, commemorative or otherwise with which viewers can directly engage so that it enables sensory interaction (e.g. visual/ haptic/aural) with its surroundings in a three-dimensional way. This does not preclude mosaics, light or sound elements, but there must be an element of plasticity alongside the immersive such that the viewer can experience it in a tangible way. The work need not be confined to a plinth and can employ a limitless range of materials, scale and contexts.
    A Fountain or Water Feature - whether a new work or the conservation of an existing work.
    For the purposes of the Marsh Awards a Fountain or Water Feature is defined as:-
    A work in the public realm which involves using moving or still water for aesthetic effect.In cases of doubt and for guidance, the Judging Panel shall have reference to the definitions of sculpture and fountains or water features above.
  2. must be sited in the UK, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.
  3. must be in a public place or, if on private property, easily accessible to public view. It may be inside a building or outside but it must be in a location where there is general access (i.e. with no restriction for disabled people or any other particular group) at all times or on a regular and advertised basis and where if there is an entrance fee, there are occasional open days giving the public free access to the work. Entries or nominations for works on private property are invited to consider the scope for maximising public access and, where appropriate, include details of any relevant initiatives.
  4. must be either:
    a. A new sculpture installed between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023; a new fountain or water feature installed between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2023 or
    b. The conservation of an existing work where the conservation work has been completed between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2023.
  5. must be intended to be permanent (temporary installations are not included in this award but site-specific interventions – if permanent – are included).
  6. must be functioning in the way intended by the artist (if a fountain or a kinetic/sound sculpture).
  7. must be safe, i.e. in the sense that it is safe for the public to appreciate and interact with the piece to an extent that is reasonable. In the case of fountains and water features, safety shall be assessed by means of a test of the water condition on at least one occasion between the closing date and the awards ceremony.
  8. must have the necessary statutory permissions.
  9. must have the consent of the landowner. For works on private property, the entry or nomination should have the consent of the owner.
  10. must meet the Conservation Award Eligibility Criteria (applicable to conservation category only), see below.

The PSSA’s Marsh Awards reward artistic achievement and skill. They celebrate diversity in the world of sculpture, are inclusive and do not discriminate on the grounds of ethnicity, colour, background, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability or age. The Judging Panel will ensure equality when making their assessments.

The conservation entry or nominated project must have been completed between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2023.

In addition it

  1. must have been informed by a thorough assessment of the construction and condition of the piece as found as well as the context and conditions in which it will be displayed.
  2. must have been informed by a fair comparison of the options available taking account of the relative benefits, risks and impact of different treatments (including trial treatments, where necessary).
  3. must show that a convincing case was made for the approach taken which took due account of the following factors:
    a. The need to respect the intentions of the original artist/designer and/or craftsman;
    b. The need to maximise the retention of original fabric and finish, especially where the hand of the artist/craftsman is evident (e.g. letter-cutting, sculpted material);
    c. The need to respect the history of the piece in terms of considered and deliberate alterations (e.g. later inscriptions, additions) and the effects of ageing or weathering;
    d. The need for the repair/conservation to be lasting (though not to seek to avoid or replace the need for appropriate maintenance);
    e. The need for interventions to be minimal wherever possible;
    f. The appropriate balance to be struck between the above factors.
  4. must have properly involved the client, particularly where different options were considered.
  5. must have taken account of advice from relevant bodies and specialists where appropriate.
  6. must have been carried out according to these intentions.
  7. must have been adequately documented.

This report by Plowden & Smith Ltd., winners of the 2021 PSSA Marsh Award for the Conservation of a Public Sculpture or Public Fountain, on their conservation of Silverdale Mining Tribute Monument at Newcastle-Under-Lyme in Staffordshire, provides an example of the standard and detail required by the judges.

Treatment Proposal

Post-Treatment Report

The entry or nominated work must demonstrate excellence against the following criteria:

For a new sculpture or fountain, the artistic intent or design should express:
- originality, especially (in the fountains category) in the use of water;
- convincing selection and command of materials;
- convincing understanding and presentation of scale;
- successful integration with and response to the setting, especially where the relationship of the work to its setting is an essential element of its concept and where the work has such an effect on its surroundings that its removal would permanently diminish that place;
- an idea or effect capable of sustaining enduring interest;
- ideas which inform or challenge our understanding and/or experience of the physical world.

For a conservation project, the philosophy or approach should be exemplary (with reference to the Conservation Eligibility Criteria ).

The work as carried out should:
- be of a high standard of workmanship/craftsmanship;
- use appropriate quality materials;
- be suitably durable and and capable of being maintained.
- Fountains and water features, where necessary, should have a planned maintenance programme.

Impact on the discipline
Taken together, the concept and realisation should make a genuine and outstanding contribution to the:
- discipline and language of sculpture or fountain design at national level; or
- discipline of conservation, at national level, whether in the sense of practice or understanding or both.

Reception and engagement
The work or its conservation should enhance or have the potential to enhance public and community appreciation of sculpture, fountain design or conservation through creating awareness, interest, enjoyment and a positive visual impact. In the case of conservation projects, this might find expression in the original work once again having its intended aesthetic value and effect. Where the original work concerns contested heritage or a problematic subject, the project should address these issues in a thoughtful and considered way which reflects current understanding and opinion. Innovative or exemplary approaches will be taken into account. For further guidance please refer to the Marsh Awards Contested Heritage Statement below.

Wider benefits
The work or its conservation should achieve one or more of the following:
- enhance or positively transform its physical environment;
- enhance or positively transform its social context;
- have a regenerative or positive transformative effect by being a focus, landmark or an attraction in its own right.

The Marsh Awards Judging Panel is acutely sensitive to issues raised by contested heritage and is keen that solutions are found which address those issues appropriately and respectfully. We appreciate that a number of works of public sculpture may signify injustice and human misery and can prompt extremely painful responses. Custodians and owners of public sculpture have the opportunity to attempt to mitigate the distress felt about historic injustices and the way the past is portrayed. The Conservation Award for Public Sculpture and Fountains recognizes the need for works to be re-evaluated and re-presented intelligently. Works which the judges deem to be in the category of contested heritage will only be considered for the conservation award if they address these issues in a thoughtful and considered way which reflects current understanding and opinion. Innovative or exemplary approaches will be taken into account in the judging process.