Beacons by Conrad Shawcross
East Cliff, Ramsgate
Local school children commissioned renowned artist Conrad Shawcross to create this new major artwork for Ramsgate.
Beacons, a new artwork formed of sculptures commissioned by local primary school children, has been created by Conrad Shawcross and will be in place on Ramsgate’s East Cliff until September 2022.
Beacons is believed to be the largest scale artwork to have been commissioned by children. The sculptures are a culmination of Pioneering Places, an ambitious multi-year project happening across East Kent, led by Creative Folkestone, to encourage people to get involved with cultural organisations and shape the place where they live. The sculptures were installed as part of Turner Contemporary’s 10th anniversary programme.
Since 2018, over 70 local children from Ramsgate Arts Primary School and St Laurence-in-Thanet Church of England Junior Academy have led this project in collaboration with Turner Contemporary.
The sculptures are formed of four impressive structures, each comprises a metal tripod supporting a coloured, perforated disc at the top. Responding to the themes identified by the children, play and playfulness, caring and modern machinery, Beacons also addresses notions of signalling and messages, with a concealed word hidden within the design, based on a coded alphabet devised by the children. The word HOME was chosen by the children to be the message that the beacons send out to sea. This follows the children’s work exploring Ramsgate’s maritime heritage and the history of its famous Royal Harbour – the only designated Royal Harbour in the UK, which will celebrate its 200th anniversary this September. HOME represents what Ramsgate meant to the children and also provided a message of welcome and warmth to anyone arriving in the town by sea or land.
Conrad Shawcross says: “It was so rewarding to work with the children of Ramsgate on this unique child-led initiative, the project has been an odyssey in itself and I cannot wait for both the children and the town to finally see these pieces up!
“We set ourselves the challenge of trying to make the most visually arresting coded system – adopting navigational languages of the past namely semaphore and exploring moray patterns and how they work. The children and I embraced scale, colour and movement to create a series of mechanical devices that send a message of hope and welcome as far as possible out into the sea.”
To find out more about the project, read more on our news page.
Conrad Shawcross RA (b. 1977) is a British artist specialising in geometric and mechanical sculptures based on philosophical and scientific ideas, which often pay tribute to some of the great pioneers and analysts of our age. His works often appear to be useful, forcing the viewer to consider their purpose or function. Yet they remain illusive, denying any final definition to remain in the realm of the metaphysical and conceptual. Through their failure as systems and models, they succeed as artworks, asking questions rather than answering them.
Conrad Shawcross RA (b. 1977) is a British artist specialising in geometric and mechanical sculptures based on philosophical and scientific ideas, which often pay tribute to some of the great pioneers and analysts of our age.