Campaign launched to bring back Glasgow's forgotten 'Floating Head' sculpture

A campaign is underway to secure a new lease of life for a forgotten “Floating Head” sculpture - more than 30 years after it had a starring role at the Glasgow Garden Festival.

A dramatic rebirth is being planned for Richard Groom’s work of art, after years spent hidden away from public view in a Clyde boatyard.

Groom, who passed away two years ago, worked with shipbuilders in Govan to create a head-shaped boat out of cement and fibreglass.

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But it was only put on public display for a few months and was almost destroyed years later after being left abandoned on the banks of the Clyde.

Now Floating Head is hoped to be taken back to its original location, next to where the Glasgow Science Centre is now located, in time for the venue’s hosting of the COP26 climate change summit at the venue in November.

Floating Head is at the centre of one of 20 crowdfunding campaigns backed by national arts agency Creative Scotland, which offers to provide match funding of up to £10,000 if it raised by supporters.

The campaign to bring back Floating Head is being led by the Sculpture Placement Group, a Glasgow-based collective set up to prolong the lifespan of works of work and find new homes for them.

Floating Head was one of five brand new works of art commissioned by the festival, which run between April and September in 1988.

The group is working with the family of the artist – whose design is said to have been inspired by the famous Easter Island sculptures – and the Glasgow Science Centre to pursue a full restoration of the sculpture, a temporary installation on the water this autumn and a then find a permanent new home for the work in the city.

The group’s fundraising page states: “Floating Head has miraculously survived all these years, having narrowly escaped destruction.

"It is currently in a boat yard further up the Clyde, where it’s in remarkably good condition, but still in need of some repair to make it seaworthy.

"The sculpture presents a unique opportunity to consider the past, present and future of this area of cultural and industrial significance, to celebrate the impact and legacy of the Glasgow Garden Festival, to consider the vision and skill of Richard Groom, and to reflect on issues around sustainability, regeneration and public art.

Richard Groom's Floating Head sculpture will be given a new lease of life if the campaign is successful.

"We hope the interest and enthusiasm that will be generated by seeing this amazing and iconic artwork revived will help us find a long term public home.”

Kate Robertson, a founder member of the Sculpture Placement Group, said: “We’re really excited about the prospect of bringing Floating Head back to the Clyde.

"It’s a really iconic piece of artwork and a great reminder of this significant historical event.

"We think the piece will be really popular with new audiences as well and that it will take on new significance in relation to the COP26 event which is being held in the same location.

The Floating Head sculpture was commissioned for the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988.

“We’re delighted to have the chance of match funding from Creative Scotland to support our Crowdfunded campaign.”

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Sculptor Richard Groom on top of his Floating Head sculpture.
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