© the copyright holder. Image credit: Rose Akeroyd / Art UK

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This sculpture has affinities with both Egyptian obelisks and the anthropomorphic structure of Native American totem poles. Its five surmounted portrait heads, each at a different stage of abstraction, are based on Sir Francis Chantrey's neo-classical bust of the Birmingham scientist and inventor James Watt, which is now in the City Museum and Art Gallery. The successive reduction and increasing fine finish visible in the piled-up heads allude to the machines that Watt developed late in life for the making of larger or smaller copies of sculpture, each being the same proportion to the one above. James Watt (1736–1819) is chiefly remembered as the inventor of the separate condenser – the greatest single improvement ever made to the steam engine.






Indian granite


H 430 x W 70 x D 70 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

commissioned by Birmingham City Council

Work type



Birmingham City Council


Birmingham City Council

Work status


Unveiling date

16th March 1988


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