by Lottie Clark, Art Curator

The Box's Decant Officer and Fine Art Curator inspecting our 'Constellation' sculpture by Barbara HepworthWe recently had Art UK at our offsite store to photograph, measure, weigh and research our sculpture collection.

This work is part of a national project to document and record the sculpture held in public collections across the UK. The information will be able to view online from 2020. Read the official press release about the project here. A similar project took place a few years ago to document and record the nation’s oil paintings. You can see this online here.

While this is a brilliant endeavour to be involved with, the task itself was no mean feat! It took a large team a whole week to prepare the sculpture – to get everything out, unpack or uncrate, clean, measure and weigh it and then add all the data to the database.

Helen Clark, Art UK Coordinator and Dave Green, Photographer then joined us for two days during which they photographed 39 different pieces. Dave has also blogged about his experience over the two days, giving a fascinating perspective on photographing these sculptures.

Our heaviest piece was a bronze and marble scale model of Monument to Bartolommeo Colleoni (115kg), our largest was Talthybius who is 194cm high. Some of you may remember him as he used to stand in the Museum and Art Gallery foyer. Our smallest piece was Plymouth sculptor Stanley Nicholson Babb’s Leda and the Swan at 13.7cm high.

We also managed to research a few anomalies within our collection and research updated valuations and artist information for some of the pieces. The work doesn’t stop there as we’ll be continuing to improve the data on our database and add more sculpture to the Art UK site in the coming months.

ArtUK sculpture project - the team removing the case for 'Constellation' by Barbara Hepworth

In many respects, this is a project that would have only been possible while we have an offsite store and are closed to the public, both of which have given us the space and staff capacity to carry out such a large-scale piece of work.

ArtUK sculpture project - the team preparing a sculpture

It’s valuable ‘behind-the-scenes’ work that will be of real benefit to The Box as it helps make our collections more visible, more accessible and better researched and documented for the public. It was also a real team effort by our Collections Assistants, Museum Assistants, Curators, Decant Officer and Collections Manager.

ArtUK sculpture project - the team preparing a sculpture

I’ll round off this post with a short time lapse of the team moving and capturing Peter Thursby’s Block and Brackets which weighs in at a hefty 40kg!