Our Sculpture

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The Plan

TRP will be installing a large bronze sculpture outside the entrance to the Theatre. We were granted planning permission by Plymouth City Council in February last year to install the sculpture and she is now being made at a foundry in North Wales.

The Subject

The sculpture is inspired by a split-second pose struck by an actor during a rehearsal for our award-winning explosive production of Othello – a TRP co-production with long time partners Frantic Assembly.

The Reason For This Public Art Commission

The idea for a sculpture originated 4 years ago as part of our £7.5million Regeneration Project. The TRP building is a fabulous example of brutalist architecture by one of the world’s great theatre architects but it doesn’t necessarily broadcast the fact that we are a vibrant, artistic institution. We wanted to do something bold that reflected the creativity that is at the heart of TRP.

The Inspiration

TRP had already commissioned Cornish artist Joseph Hillier to create an exhibition to mark the reopening of the Theatre after the completion of the Regeneration Project. Joseph wanted to base his work on a theatre company with close artistic associations to TRP. Frantic Assembly was chosen because we have worked with them for more than 20 years and were co-producing Othello with them at the time. Joseph spent time in rehearsals with the company to get a feel for how they work. He digitally scanned the bodies of actors as they performed their very physical movements. His exhibition was based on those scans. Inspired by this exhibition we then discussed with Joseph how we might build on his work to make an external statement, available publicly for everyone to enjoy and interact with, about the creativity and dynamism at the heart of TRP. The statue will be the outcome of that process.

Othello trailer

The Scale

The sculpture will measure 7m (23ft) tall and 9 (30ft) wide. To put that into perspective, the average double-decker bus measures 4.38m (14ft 4ins) tall and 15 metres (49.3ft) in length! She will be made of bronze and weigh 10 tonnes.

Installation date

The sculpture should be in place by the end of this year.

The Cost

An estimated £450,000.

TRP secured a final dedicated funding package of £7.5million for the Regeneration Project which included funds for creating a piece of public art. There will be no additional funding required from the public purse. No Plymouth City Council or Arts Council funds have been provided for the statue.

The Artist

Joseph was born and brought up in Helston, Cornwall and studied at Falmouth College of Art before attending Newcastle University. Joseph now works near Newcastle in a studio, purpose-built to enable the creation of large-scale works of art. He has 17 large-scale permanent sculptures on display both nationally and internationally. The largest is ‘In Our Image’ in County Durham, measuring 16 metres tall.

Joseph Hillier
Joseph Hillier

The Creative Inspiration

Frantic Assembly is an award-winning company creating thrilling, energetic and unforgettable theatre. Their unique physical style combines movement, design, music and text and the company attracts new and young audiences with work that reflects contemporary culture.

Over the last two decades TRP has co-produced seven new shows with Frantic Assembly including Lovesong, The Believers, pool (no water) as well as Othello. We will be staging the world premiere of Frantic Assembly’s next new production with TRP Autumn 2018.

Impact to the Surrounding Area

One tree will be removed to accommodate the statue. As part of the Regeneration Project we bought and planted 14 new trees around the Theatre to help compensate for any tree removal needed to make way for the sculpture.

In addition, when we were granted planning approval, one of the conditions was for a new tree to be planted elsewhere in the City. This will take place in April when a tree, paid for by the Theatre, will be planted on Market Way as part of the landscape improvements taking place there.

The Ambition

TRP believes that a statue such as this will have a positive transformational impact not just on the Theatre but also on the whole of the city centre. A major piece of public art can transform the world’s perception of what a place is like; it makes a statement about a city – it’s ambitious, it’s contemporary and it’s forward looking.

It will create a unique landmark for the city and strengthen its cultural offering. In time it may become one of those iconic statues that destinations become forever associated with.

It will cause controversy. The Angel of the North faced a tremendous amount of opposition when it was proposed but is now an integral part of life in the North East. We hope our new sculpture will become just that here in Plymouth.

Our Sculpture