Artist wins £45,000 commission for new public artwork in Glasgow

The artwork will act as a focal point for the new St Rollox church community in the Sighthill regeneration area. Image: Contributed
The artwork will act as a focal point for the new St Rollox church community in the Sighthill regeneration area. Image: Contributed
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A prizewinning sculptor who was the youngest artist ever to be elected to the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture has been awarded the £45,000 commission for a public artwork that will be sited at a new church in Glasgow.

Angus-based Michael Visocchi was chosen from a field of 21 internationally renowned artists to create an artwork envisaged as a landmark and iconic focal point for the new St Rollox church community in the Sighthill regeneration area.

Mr Viscocchi’s previous work includes the Memorial to the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, a collaboration with poet Lemn Sissay, which was unveiled by Bishop Desmond Tutu in 2008. The memorial, titled The Gilt of Cain, is sited on Fenchurch Street in the heart of the City of London.

He also created sculpture ‘Pontils’ which stands at the Dumyat South roundabout in Clackmannanshire and Florum Cultura sited in the Howden Park Centre in Livingston.

The artist, who trained in sculpture at Glasgow School of Art was awarded the Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2009, said: “The Sighthill community is very interesting and the congregation is unique in its diversity and in the way it has evolved over the last 15 years. This commission is an exciting development for Glasgow and for this area as it is regenerated.

“Art is important and public art especially is a way to encourage people to engage with their locality and see it through new eyes.”

The St Rollox congregation learned in 2014 that it would have to move out of its current church building because it stands in the way of the new road to the Sighthill regeneration area, which will include more than 800 new homes. The new church building is just half a mile away from the existing church and is planned to become a community hub.

Rev Jane Howitt, minister at St Rollox and chair of the jury which selected his design said: “We shortlisted four talented artists who each contributed very high quality entries and as we began our deliberations the jury members had differing ideas of who they thought might win the commission.

“It was really interesting to see during our discussion how those preferences changed. By the end of the day there was complete unanimity regarding the appointment of Michael Visocchi.”

She added: “The jury felt that Michael’s entry has the potential to speak to the community on many levels. We considered his proposal to be a truly unique artwork, something which has not been seen elsewhere in Scotland or indeed across the UK.

“It is a piece that brings the church outside into the community and by using various cruciform designs strongly identifies the building as a church. We believe it will become a well-loved landmark and one which will stand the test of time.”