There’s a buzz here at GA as we get excited about the launch of our new Art Award, a distinct new category for the GAGAs, which are our annual construction awards held in London each year.
This new award celebrates the use of galvanized steel in contemporary sculptural practice and the applied arts across the UK and Ireland. As a new category it sits amongst a wide-ranging portfolio of awards: Galvanizing in Architecture, Galvanizing in Engineering, Galvanizing in Detail, Sustainable Galvanizing and the Duplex Award.
Historically, the GAGAs have always encouraged and awarded artworks that show exceptional innovation, engineering and craftsmanship in galvanized steel; from installation pieces and site-specific works, to more traditional sculpture and detailed metalwork.
This has included work by artists like Andy Scott which have become synonymous with their locations. Heavy Horse a 4m tall, open structure which represents a Clydesdale horse made of welded steel bars, was erected in 1997 alongside the M8 motorway near Glasgow. It has become a well-loved artwork in Scotland and a symbol of Glasgow’s heavy industrial past.
Judges have also acknowledged the astonishing monumental scale of the semi-autobiographical work of Antony Gormley, who’s piece Crouching Man / Exposure won best detail award in 2010. The towering 60 tonne piece took Scottish pylon-makers and Dutch engineers six years to complete and was a feat of engineering as well as creative endurance.
In a similar vein, Skytower by Rob Mullholland, a commission for Forestry Commission Scotland, forms the central piece of a place-making exercise and uses galvanized steel rods to capture the power of the elements. It creates a focal point in large, formerly unused rural area of Airdrie.
Whilst Boiled Lobster, a 3m high sculpture by was created for the Staithes Arts & Heritage Festival, where the sculpture took centre stage in the historic fishing village on the North Yorkshire coast, to highlight its past and present fishing industry.
Taking a more functional approach, last year’s RHS Root Bench, commissioned for the Chelsea Flower Show, contained a single planted tree.
It used folded 2mm galvanized steel plate to form a biological cross-section of a drawing wrought in steel.
Designed using parametric software, the extruded form and intersecting geometry of the folded steel can support the weight of a 4m long fully laden bench. It forms a simple ode to the miraculous strength of root systems.
The new Art Award category is open to anyone at any stage of their career and is not restricted with regard to size. The only consideration is that the work uses galvanized steel and has been created since 2018 and that is shows the clear intent to be a work of art.