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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Gordon Young (b. 1952)

Sculptor and designer. Born in Carlisle, he studied at Coventry Polytechnic under Terry Atkinson and subsequently at the Royal College of Art. He was a curator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and director of the Welsh Sculpture Trust, Cardiff, before becoming a full-time artist in 1984. Specialising in public art, often with typographical elements, he collaborates with local communities and a range of architects, landscape architects, graphic designers, typographers, engineers, foresters, historians and craftsmen. An early work was the Fish Pavement at Hull (1992). In 1994, Young was team leader of a group of artists producing decorative artworks for the Tern Project at Stone Jetty, Morecambe, Lancashire (Art for Architecture Award, Royal Society of Arts, 1994); his own contributions include Cormorants (with Brian Fell), Mythical Bird and Tongue Twisters (with Russell Coleman). His Cursing Stone and Reivers Pavement in Carlisle (2003) forms a nice contrast with his Drovers Stone at Gleneagles (2005) which hails passers-by with warm greetings. His group of seven carved sculptures (2008) enhances the ‘7Stanes’ (Scots for stones) mountain bike route in the south of Scotland which runs from the Scottish Borders to Dumfries and Galloway: two examples are The Gem Stane at Kirroughtree and The Ghost Stane at Mabie Forest. In Crawley Library, West Sussex, is his ‘forest’ of Typographic Trees (2009; RIBA Award 2010); in Knowsley Leisure and Culture Park at Huyton, Liverpool, his Nonsense Alphabet (2011) celebrating Edward Lear; and on the Tower Festival Headland, Blackpool, his Comedy Carpet (with Why Not Associates; PMSA Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture, 2012). MK Rose at Milton Keynes (2010–13) has 140 columns commemorating historical events, while the Traversing (or Climbing) Wall, Barry Island, Glamorgan (2014) is a 40m-long wall covered with seaside-theme shapes in different-coloured recycled plastic, some designed as climbing holds, arranged to form giant letters in Welsh and English spelling out the place name. In Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge, Bird Stones (2014), comprises a series of standing stones, carved to provide perches, shelters and baths for birds and inscribed with bird-themed poetry and descriptions of bird calls. At the time of writing, Young lives and works in Somerset.

Bibliography: Carry on Carving (exh. cat.), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1992; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. xvii, 36, 38, 85–86, 87, 97–98, 138; S. Heller and M. Ilic, Lettering Large: the Art and Design of Monumental Typography, New York, 2013; RSA website – Item 39: Morecambe Bay, 1993–94; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, p. 147; Gordon Young website; G. Young and G. McCann, The Comedy Carpet, Blackpool, 2013.

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