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Ritual sculpture

A Grade II Listed Building in City of London, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5164 / 51°30'58"N

Longitude: -0.09 / 0°5'23"W

OS Eastings: 532626

OS Northings: 181446

OS Grid: TQ326814

Mapcode National: GBR RB.YL

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.D49W

Entry Name: Ritual sculpture

Listing Date: 19 January 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1431375

Location: City of London, London, EC2V

County: London

District: City and County of the City of London

Electoral Ward/Division: Coleman Street

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: City of London

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): City of London

Church of England Parish: St Margaret Lothbury

Church of England Diocese: London

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Summary

'Ritual' sculpture, 1968-69, by Antanas Braždys is situated on the west side of Coleman Street, adjacent to Woolgate Exchange.

Description

'Ritual' sculpture, 1968-69, by Antanas Braždys is situated on the west side of Coleman Street, adjacent to Woolgate Exchange.

This abstract sculpture, of highly polished stainless steel, is approximately 275cm in height and is mounted upon a tubular steel plinth. It comprises a hierarchy of four contrasting but symmetrical volumes, balanced or seemingly hovering on top of one another. Above a flared base are a curved tube, a cube and a complex tubular form with a double curve.

History

The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture as a primarily aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire and the new towns leading the way in public patronage. Thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20 however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivation.

Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Phillip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new – often industrial – materials and techniques including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and ‘ready mades’ (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.

Braždys was commissioned in August 1968 after winning a sculpture competition organised by the developers of Woolgate Exchange, the Westminster Bank and the Sunday Times. ‘Ritual’ was unveiled by the Arts Minister Jennie Lee in the Basinghall Street forecourt of Woolgate Exchange in October 1969. City Press commented that it was one of the first abstract works of public sculpture in the City of London. After the redevelopment of Woolgate Exchange the sculpture was re-sited at its current position in 2001. The sculpture, City Press wrote, 'echoes the shapes and textures of the surrounding townscape, reflecting both the curving roof of the new Guildhall Exhibition Hall, and the stark simplicity of nearby office blocks. The sweeping curves of its crown, the simple statement of its rectangular surfaces, and its flowing base, are both satisfying as a unity and as an object in relation to surrounding structures' (cited in Ward-Jackson 2003, pg. 84).

Antanas (Tony) Braždys was born in Lithuania in 1939, but grew up in England and the United States after his family fled the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states. He trained at the Art Institute of Chicago where his sculpture was shown at group exhibitions. After winning a grant for foreign travel and study he settled in London in 1961, teaching at the Royal and Cheltenham Colleges of Art and showing at a number of solo exhibitions. Braždys worked almost entirely in welded stainless steel. His other works include a sculpture for the entrance of the British Pavilion at the 1970 World Fair at Osaka, Japan (now at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire), and ‘Echo’ (1970), 'Solo Flight' (1982) and 'High Flying' (1982), all at Harlow, Essex. Although he developed an abstract idiom, Braždys’ mother had a strong interest in Lithuanian folk dance, leading him to speculate that ‘'from time to time, I see the sort of rhythms I learned then coming out in my handling of the metal'’ (Remeikis 1980).

Reasons for Listing

The stainless steel sculpture 'Ritual' of 1968-69 by Antanas Braždys is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: an abstract sculpture of considerable formal elegance, representative of Braždys’ oeuvre;
* Historic interest: as one of the first abstract public sculptures in the City of London, an area rich in late-C20 public sculpture stemming from public and private initiatives alike.

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