Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

5 March 2014

A Partnership Agreement has been signed between the PMSA and the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) to collaborate on a project to digitise public sculpture throughout the UK, which will have huge significance for the protection of the nation’s sculptural heritage.

We will work with the PCF to create one comprehensive, searchable, digital database of sculpture in the UK from the eleventh century onwards, which will be freely available to the public online. The project, entitled ‘Your Sculpture’, will result in a substantial improvement in public awareness of what is arguably the finest public collection of sculpture in the world.

A key PMSA initiative has been the ground breaking National Recording Project (see NRP). In this new partnership, the PMSA will use its NRP expertise to take responsibility for outdoor sculpture in the public realm. While the PCF, which has been successful in producing a digitised record of publicly-owned oil paintings under its ‘Your Paintings’ project, will have responsibility for indoor sculpture in public museums and public collections.

In the ‘Your Sculpture’ project there will be a heavy emphasis on education and involving schoolchildren and students. The project will also endeavour to attract and engage with new audiences from a wide spectrum of the population.

The project will catalogue and photograph the nation’s public sculpture, and bring to attention the many works in public collections that are in storage and not ordinarily on view. It will also provide these collections with full photographic records of, and online access to, their sculptural holdings.

Subject to funding being secured, the digitisation process is expected to take about four years to complete. A research project has already been undertaken, financed by a grant from the Henry Moore Foundation, and a joint steering panel of sculpture experts has been in place for almost a year giving substantial support to the partnership. When the project is completed, everyone will be able to search all sculptural items on the database, view high quality images of each, add personal comments and be directed to other sources of information.

Statement from PMSA Chairman, John Lewis OBE

"I am delighted the PMSA has signed this Partnership Agreement with the PCF to work together on the "Your Sculpture" digitisation project. It is the result of over a year's thorough preparation.

I would particularly like to thank Bob Lisney OBE, PMSA Trustee in charge of the National Recording Project, for the time and effort he has put into bringing this Partnership to fruition. I would also to thank the members of the joint steering panel for their commitment to the "Your Sculpture" project and their continued support.

This is an important Partnership and exciting new venture for the PMSA. We are looking forward to a productive collaboration with the PCF, which will enable us to realize our common goals."

Statements from PMSA Vice Presidents

Professor Dr. Andrew Ciechanowiecki: “This intellectual and technical ‘marriage’ is fantastic for any lover or student of sculpture. The PMSA has done a great deal to catalogue public sculpture in this country, as evidenced by the numerous volumes in the ‘Public Sculpture of Britain’ series to date. This partnership with the PCF will allow the two charities, working together, to create a much more ambitious (badly needed) plan, making available to all, the holdings in this field of public collections, similar to the brilliant work achieved by the ‘Your Paintings’ project. I sincerely hope the planned ‘Your Sculpture’ project will be similarly acclaimed.”

Lord Crathorne: "This Partnership between the PMSA and the PCF is of great importance in promoting and protecting the nation's sculptural patrimony, safeguarding it for future generations. The UK has one of the finest collections of public sculpture in the world. The planned digitisation project of this sculpture will enable its range and quality to be appreciated throughout the world."

Dr. Tim Knox: “After the triumph of the Public Catalogue Foundation's survey of the nation's oil paintings, now available online via bbcyourpaintings (a site I constantly use), I am delighted to hear that they are moving on to the nation's sculpture. This builds upon the Public Monument and Sculpture Association's pioneering National Recording Project, cataloguing sculpture in the public domain. I am delighted that the PMSA and PCF are joining forces to carry this out. The resulting catalogue will be incredibly useful - as I suspect there are untold wonders lurking in museum and institutional storerooms, all over the British Isles.”

Dr. Jennifer Montagu CBE: “By now you will probably have seen the announcement of the joint project of the PMSA with the Public Catalogue Foundation. I hope you agree that this is excellent news.

Anyone who has used the “Your Paintings” web-site will know what an invaluable resource it is for tracking down all the paintings belonging to the public, whether in the nation’s museums, or held by public institutions. It is now proposed to create a similar site for sculpture.

The records assembled over decades by the PMSA in hunting down and researching public monuments will feed into this. By combining the work of the PMSA with the expertise of the Public Catalogue Foundation, an easily searched data-base will arouse far greater public awareness of these monuments, and so, it may be hoped, afford them greater protection in the future. When the sculpture, all too often hidden in museums, is added, we shall be able to see (for once) sculpture given an equal status to painting!

For all who care about sculpture, this is a great enterprise, and one to which the PMSA can be proud to contribute.”

All news items.