A striking new sculpture that explores themes of mental health and depression, has been unveiled on The Liverpool Plinth at Liverpool Parish Church (St Nick’s).
Created by North Yorkshire-based and Egyptian-born sculptor, Sam Shendi, whose works have been displayed around the world, Split Decision is a 4.5 metre, multicoloured, minimalist structure, and for the next year will sit on the famous plinth at the side of the church overlooking Chapel Street and the city’s UNESCO World Heritage waterfront.
Brought to the city by Liverpool BID Company, in partnership with the church, and city gallery and art organisation, dot-art, Split Decision uses colours to express a multitude of emotions and fears that a depressed individual experiences when having to make a decision. Represented by the outstretched legs, the artist also hopes to convey the positive opportunities that sit on the horizon for those who are struggling to overcome their mental anguish.
With over two-decades in the limelight, Sam Shendi has won numerous awards for his work, as well as becoming a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors in 2014, and is renowned for his eye-catching, coloured abstractions of the human figure and mind.
Sam Shendi said:
“As with all my work, my hope is that Split Decision will have an impact on the people of Liverpool, both visually and emotionally, and stir a conversation about the issues of mental health and depression. Importantly, I want Split Decision to give hope to those going through dark times in their lives, so they know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
“It is not every day that you get the opportunity to showcase your work in a location as iconic as Liverpool’s world famous waterfront – and for that I must thank Liverpool BID Company, Liverpool Parish Church and dot-art. I have always admired the city and the fighting spirit of its people, and I look forward to seeing how they respond to Split Decision.”
Split Decision was selected by a committee including the BID, St Nick’s, the Bluecoat, Liverpool Cathedral and dot-art, following a call-out to artists working in the north of England to submit their works for consideration. The new sculpture replaces last year’s popular winner, Gold Lamé – a suspended, bright gold car – by Tony Heaton, which was originally commissioned as part of Art of the Lived Experiment for DaDaFest 2014 at the Bluecoat.
Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company, and chair of the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network (LVEN), said:
“The BID is committed to enhancing the Commercial District BID with thought-provoking, public art – creating an attractive environment for those who live and work in the area, and encouraging people from outside to visit and utilise the businesses located here.
“I should also mention the themes behind Sam’s work about mental illness, depression, and importantly, hope and faith. There’s a positive message in there and I look forward to seeing how it resonates with people.”
Lucy Byrne, managing director of dot-art, said:
“We received so many fantastic submissions for the 2019 Liverpool Plinth, but for us on the panel, the themes behind Sam’s sculpture, not to mention the vibrant colours, really caught our attention, making him a worthy winner. I just can’t wait to see how people react to it. dot-art’s mission is to enable everyone to enrich their lives through art and we believe that this striking work will do just that, bringing joy to those who live and work in the area.”
The Revd Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, rector of Liverpool, added:
“Through The Liverpool Plinth project, St Nick’s is once again able to provide a platform for local artists to showcase their work to the people of Liverpool. Split Decisions encapsulates all that the church represents – hope, optimism and belief – and I’m confident that this will translate with people who see it. The church has a long history of using visual art as a way of stimulating a conversation about a particular theme – I’m excited to see this tradition continue.”
The selection panel involved Lucy Byrne, the Revd Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, Sue Darwell from Bruntwood and Commercial District BID Board Member, Lesley Woodbridge from Liverpool City Council’s Public Art Office, Linny Venables and Adam Smythe from the Bluecoat, and Pete Spiers from the Diocese of Liverpool. Sam will also be awarded an additional £1,000 prize.
Before Split Decision and Gold Lamé before it, The Liverpool Plinth lay empty since the removal of Brian Burgess’s Christ on a Donkey several years ago.