PMSA Conference 2018 in collaboration with the Royal College of Art

Patronage and Change: The evolving face of patronage and commissioning of public sculpture

Alfred Gilbert, Anteros, Piccadilly Circus, London
Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, Alfred Gilbert,
Anteros, aluminium, Piccadilly Circus,
(photo: Creative Commons)

Venue: Royal College of Art, Gorvy Lecture Theatre, Battersea campus, London.
Date: 13 and 14 October 2018
Chair Day One, Saturday 13 October: Dr Marjorie (Holly) Trusted
Chair Day Two, Sunday 14 October: Sarah Gaventa

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) in collaboration with the Royal College of Art presents a two-day conference in London looking at the changing face of patronage and commissioning of public sculpture.

The conference has a broad remit, and we are interested in hearing from scholars exploring a range of themes over a period from 1600 to the present day.

Topics of particular interest include:

• Royal patronage.
• Religious sculpture.
• Commemorative sculpture raised by subscription and/or relating to disasters.
• Urban schemes such as Leeds City Square, Sir Frederick Gibberd in Harlow.
• Stand alone projects e.g. The Albert Memorial, The Fourth Plinth, Hove & Liverpool plinths.
• Public sculpture commissioned by the wealthy, philanthropists, societies, pressure groups.
• Community projects.
• Commercial and Architectural sculptural commissions and projects.
• Schemes related to public services such as shops, shopping centres, and transport such as the railway and bridges.
• How the advent of new materials affected public sculpture.

We are particularly interested in the changing nature of public sculpture, and why and how this occurred. We would like to explore public sculpture, which pushed boundaries or was the result of new patronage. Questions we would like to address include place-making, social engagement, memorialisation and the fate of public sculpture when change happens.

The focus of the conference will be British public sculpture, but we are also interested in European public sculpture, particularly where there is an influence or cross-reference with British sculpture. If in doubt, please do contact us.


We welcome applications from affiliated and independent academic researchers interested in attending and speaking at the conference.

Papers will be a maximum of 20-25 minutes long and must be delivered in English. Digital image projection facilities will be available at the venue. A selection of the papers will be published following the conference.

To propose a paper for presentation, please submit the following by email to arrive no later than Friday 7 September 2018:

A summary of the content of the proposed paper of no more than 400 words and working title. A current and brief CV (résumé) detailing your academic and publishing history, with your full contact details.

The decision of whether to accept a paper for the conference will be made by the Academic Committee. Participation in the conference is free for speakers. A charge will be made for non-speakers.

Please note we do not issue letters of invitation and cannot get involved in any visa application process. Speakers whose papers are selected for presentation at the conference will receive a letter confirming their participation and this can be submitted to those funding bodies or academic institutions requiring it.

There is no funding available from the conference organisers for people wishing to take part in this event.

Please send your proposal to deliver a paper at the conference to [email protected] with the subject line – PMSA Conference 2018.

Please contact the above email address should you have any questions.


Dr. Holly Trusted, Senior Sculpture Curator V&A, London.

Joanna Barnes, PMSA Chief Operating Officer and Trustee, and 3rd Dimension.

Sarah Gaventa, public space and public art commentator and curator, currently Director of the Illuminated River Foundation (creating the longest public art project in the world) and curator of ‘Out There : Our Post War Public Art ‘ exhibition for Historic England.

Sarah Staton, Senior Tutor, Sculpture, Royal College of Art.

Leonie Summers, 3rd Dimension.

The organisers for this event are the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA), a registered charity in England, registration no. 1064519, and the Royal College of Art.


RCA logo