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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Shane Johnstone (b. 1961)

Sculptor. Born in Lancaster, he worked as a fairground artist in Blackpool and Morecambe, before studying mural arts at Chelsea School of Art, 1979–81. After a period of acting in the London film industry, he worked in street theatre, commercial arts and special education, specialising in multi-media projects for schools and community groups. He has been a co-coordinator of arts events in North West England and beyond for local authorities, arts agencies, festival and theatre companies; he was, for example, the principal artist at the 2004 Manchester Cow Parade. His Love, the Most Beautiful of Absolute Disasters, popularly known as Venus and Cupid (2000–01), a 1.5m-high sculpture in concrete covered with mosaic, was erected at Scalestones Point overlooking Morecambe Bay in 2005 to commemorate the 24 cockle-pickers who died in the bay the previous year. When the five-year licence granted by the Council expired, Johnstone prepared to have the sculpture removed. However, so great was the sculpture’s popularity that in 2015 a group of locals established the Venus and Cupid Arts Trust to pay for its upkeep and repair. In Blackpool, Johnstone worked with community groups and students from Beacon Hill High School to create neon chandeliers, mirror mosaic wall panels (2008) and stained glass (2010) for Blackpool Central Library. At the baby memorial garden in Carleton Cemetery, near Fleetwood, Lancashire, he made a sculpture of a giant hand cradling a baby (glass mosaic, 2010) for SANDS, the Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Society.

Sources include: Shane Johnstone, email to David A. Cross, 10 June 2014.

Bibliography: D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 63, 82; Shane Johnstone website; ‘Inventory of Public Art Works owned by Blackpool Council’, March 2022 (PDF); Wikipedia – ‘Venus and Cupid (sculpture)’.

David A. Cross, 2017; updated, Terry Cavanagh, March 2024