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Between 2017 and 2021 a dedicated team of Art UK staff and volunteers travelled the length and breadth of the UK to record public sculptures in our streets and parks, at the top of mountains and beside the sea. Many of these monuments have been erected to commemorate people, celebrating their achievements and remembering events which defined their lives.

Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758–1805)

Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758–1805) 1809

Richard Westmacott II (1775–1856)

Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands

What do these artworks tell us about our country's history and who we choose to commemorate?

Over 13,000 outdoor sculpture records, created by Art UK, have been analysed. We found that just over 2,600 of these public sculptures depict or commemorate named, real-life people.

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913)

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) 2021

Felicity Crawley

Twyn Square, Usk, Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)

These 2,600 works are not just figurative statues and busts, but include commemorative water troughs and pumps, fountains, clock towers, bandstands, tombstones and obelisks which have been erected in the memory of a named person or to celebrate their life.

What is the proportion of sculptures of men and women?

Of these 2,600 works across the UK, 77.5% are dedicated to men, 17% are dedicated to women and 5.5% are dedicated to both men and women.

'Rise up, women' (Emmeline Pankhurst, 1858–1928)

'Rise up, women' (Emmeline Pankhurst, 1858–1928) 2018

Hazel Reeves and Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry

St Peter's Square, Manchester, Greater Manchester

What happens if we just count figurative or pictorial sculptures, such as statues, busts and reliefs, taking out items such as clock towers, fountains and tombstones? The statistics change slightly, with the percentage of sculptures of men increasing: 88% are sculptures of men, 10% are sculptures of women and 2% are sculptures of men and women. This clearly shows that we are more likely to see depictions of men in figurative sculptural form in the UK, than of women.

How many sculptures of named people of colour are there?

Just under 2% of the 2,600 artworks across the UK depict or commemorate people of colour.

Examples of people of colour commemorated in public sculptures and monuments include Betty Campbell (1934–2017) MBE, Wales' first black head teacher, in Cardiff...

Betty Campbell (1934–2017), MBE

Betty Campbell (1934–2017), MBE 2021

Eve Shepherd and Castle Fine Arts

Central Square, Cardiff (Caerdydd)

...the poet Jackie Kay (b.1961) in Edinburgh...

Jackie Kay (b.1961)

Jackie Kay (b.1961) 2003–2004

Michael Snowden (b.1930)

Lochside Crescent, Edinburgh

...and Henrietta Lacks (1920–1951) in Bristol, a Black American woman whose cells were the first ever to survive and multiply outside the body, and whose use changed the course of modern medicine.

Henrietta Lacks (1920–1951) – More than a Cell

Henrietta Lacks (1920–1951) – More than a Cell 2021

Helen Wilson-Roe

Royal Fort Gardens, Bristol

There are no less than five monuments to the architect of Indian independence Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) – in Westminster, Camden, Greater Manchester, Cardiff and Hull...

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) 2015

Philip Henry Christopher Jackson (b.1944) and Morris Art Bronze Foundry (founded 1921)

Parliament Square, Westminster

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) 1968

Fredda Brilliant (1903–1999)

Tavistock Square Gardens, Camden

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) 2019 (?)

Ram Vanji Sutar (b.1925)

Victoria Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) 2015

Ram Vanji Sutar (b.1925) and Anil Sutar (b.1957)

Bute Place, Cardiff (Caerdydd)

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)

Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) 2004

Jaiprakash Shirgaonkar (b.c.1952)

High Street, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

...and two sculptures of anti-apartheid campaigner Oliver Tambo (1917–1993), both in the London Borough of Haringey.

Oliver Tambo (1917–1993)

Oliver Tambo (1917–1993) 2007

Ian Homer Walters (1930–2006)

Oliver Tambo Recreation Ground, Albert Road, Haringey

Oliver Tambo (1917–1993)

Oliver Tambo (1917–1993) 2019

unknown artist

Oliver Tambo Recreation Ground, Albert Road, Haringey

Visitors to Derby can see a star on the Made in Derby Walk of Fame 2 for champion breakdancer Karam Singh (b.1998).

Made in Derby Walk of Fame 2

Made in Derby Walk of Fame 2 2019

Tim Clapcott and Manor Foundry

Iron Gate, Derby, Derbyshire

A poignant sculpture in Hull, called True Love, honours two Inuit people, Memiadluk and Uckaluk, who arrived in Hull in 1847 aboard the local whaling ship Truelove.

True Love

True Love 2002

Stefan Gec (b.1958)

Tower Street, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

The following year the married couple set sail for their home in Cumberland Sound, Baffin Island. During this journey, Uckaluk died following an outbreak of measles on board the ship.

A statue of the Native American woman Pocahontas can be found in Gravesend, Kent (where she died in 1617)...

Princess Pocahontas

Princess Pocahontas 1922–1957

William Ordway Partridge (1861–1930)

Church Street, Gravesend, Kent

... and also commemorated in the town is Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji, one of the first Sikh pilots to volunteer during the Second World War – he became a distinguished Royal Air Force fighter pilot.

Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji (1918–2010)

Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji (1918–2010) 2014

Douglas Jennings (b.1966)

Crooked Lane, Gravesend, Kent

In Southwark, Mahomet Weyonomon (1700–1736), a Mohegan Sachem (chief), is remembered in a stone brought from Mohegan lands and carved by sculptor Peter Randall-Page.

Memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon (1700–1736)

Memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon (1700–1736) 2006

Peter Randall-Page (b.1954)

Cathedral Street, Southwark

The majority of these sculptures and monuments dedicated to people of colour are sited in England, with fewer in other parts of the UK. That imbalance is being addressed, however, with several artworks having been commissioned and installed in recent years, with plans in place to commemorate more people of colour across the UK.

How many of our public sculptures commemorate royalty?

The largest group of named real people commemorated are royalty, with over 460 public sculptures (15.5% of the total sculptures of named people). These range from early kings and queens, such as King Alfred the Great (of Wessex) and Robert the Bruce (King of Scots), to our present monarch.

Alfred the Great (849 AD–899 AD)

Alfred the Great (849 AD–899 AD) 1901

Hamo Thornycroft (1850–1925)

The Broadway, Winchester, Hampshire

Robert the Bruce (1274–1329)

Robert the Bruce (1274–1329) 1877

George Cruikshank (active 1877) and Andrew Currie (1812–1891)

Upper Castlehill, Stirling, Stirling

Elizabeth II (b.1926)

Elizabeth II (b.1926) 2012

Frances Segelman (b.1949)

Market Place, Bexley

Queen Victoria is the monarch with most public monuments and sculptures dedicated to her, with over 175 statues, fountains, bandstands, clock towers and other artworks erected in her name.

Queen Victoria (1819–1901)

Queen Victoria (1819–1901)

Charles Bell Birch (1832–1893)

Queens Gardens, Ironmarket, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire

That's 38% of the monuments to royalty across the UK. Most of the monuments to Queen Victoria are in England, but they can also be found in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.

What other roles and professions are depicted in public sculpture?

After royalty, other roles and professions depicted and commemorated in large numbers are military figures (7% of the total sculptures of named people), politicians (6.5%), writers and poets (6.5%), religious figures (5%) and aristocracy (2.5%). The percentage for aristocracy may look low, but many members of the aristocracy are counted in the politicians and military figures percentages listed above, as they frequently held multiple positions in public life.

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

George Frederic Watts (1817–1904)

Eastgate, Lincoln, Lincolnshire

Also well represented is medicine, with statues of doctors and nurses, for example, and people who developed new medical technology, musicians and singers, engineers, artists, explorers, mayors, inventors, actors and comedians. For sporting stars, football comes out on top with the most sculptures and monuments, with footballers and club managers representing 2% of the total sculptures of named people.

More unusual roles and people are commemorated in sculpture across the UK. Examples include smuggler and fishwife Dolly Peel (1782–1857), in Tyne and Wear...

Dolly Peel (1782–1857)

Dolly Peel (1782–1857) 1987

Billy Gofton (b.1945)

River Drive, South Shields, Tyne and Wear

...circus acrobats The Great Blondinis, in Swindon...

The Great Blondinis

The Great Blondinis 1986

John Clinch (1934–2001)

Whitehouse Road, Swindon, Wiltshire

...draughts champion Robert Stewart (1873–1941), in Kelty, Fife...

Memorial for Robert Stewart (1873–1941)

Memorial for Robert Stewart (1873–1941) 2000

unknown artist

Main Street, Kelty, Fife

...Cushy Glen, the Highwayman, in Limavady, County Londonderry...

Cushy Glen, the Highwayman

Cushy Glen, the Highwayman 2012

Maurice Harron (b.1946)

Windyhill Road, Limavady, County Londonderry 

...and Baron Spolasco, a fraudulent doctor, in Swansea.

Baron Spolasco

Baron Spolasco

Jonah Jones (1919–2004) and Meic Watts and Brian Denman and Robin Campbell and Richard Porch

Trawler Road, Swansea, Swansea (Abertawe)

An abstract sculpture in Tyne and Wear remembers a local miser and kleptomaniac, Lady Peat...

Lady Peat Sculpture

Lady Peat Sculpture 2009 or before

Pupils of Herrington Primary School

Crow Lane, East Herrington, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

...and at Pendle Hill, Lancashire, Alice Nutter (d.1612), a woman accused of witchcraft, is memorialised.

Alice Nutter (d.1612)

Alice Nutter (d.1612) 2012

David Palmer (b.1963)

Blacko Bar Road, Roughlee, Pendle Hill, Lancashire

Sadly, many monuments have been erected to commemorate people who have died in tragic circumstances, reminding us that public sculptures can often be a way for people to express their grief and remember a loved one who is no longer with them. Some sculptures honour people who died during a heroic act, such as trying to save others from drowning or a fire.

Memorial Bench

Memorial Bench 2017

David Filcher (b.1964)

Westoe Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear

Heart-breaking public sculptures include the memorial bench dedicated to two Manchester Arena bombing victims in Tyne and Wear, and the Alice Maud Denman and Peter Regelous Memorial Drinking Fountain in Tower Hamlets, which commemorates the people who were killed in a fire at 423 Hackney Road on the night of 19th/20th April 1902 trying to save the lives of the occupants.

Alice Maud Denman and Peter Regelous Memorial Drinking Fountain

Alice Maud Denman and Peter Regelous Memorial Drinking Fountain 1902–1903

unknown artist

Victoria Park Gardens, Cambridge Heath Road, Tower Hamlets

One more unusual monument, in Northumberland, was built as a memorial to what could have been a fatal accident. Miss Baker-Cresswell was driving a pony and trap up to a level crossing when a steam train, which should have slowed down because of the dip in the railway line at Chathill, frightened the horse and she was thrown from the trap. She escaped serious injury and being of a religious disposition she put this down to divine intervention. She commissioned a stone drinking fountain to commemorate the incident.

Drinking Fountain

Drinking Fountain 1887

unknown artist

Near Chathill Station, Chathill, Northumberland

What do public sculptures tell us about our national identities?

The statues and monuments erected across the UK can tell us a lot about the local area, with each part of the UK reflecting its own identity, industries and local heroes.

England

There are significantly more public sculptures and monuments in England than in other parts of the UK. Of the 13,600+ recorded by Art UK, over 78% are in England. This is unsurprising, with England having a higher population density and more towns and villages than other parts of the UK.

There is also a slightly higher percentage of monuments dedicated to women in England. Of the 10,300 sculptures dedicated to people in England, 75% are dedicated to men, 18.5% are dedicated to women and 6.5% are dedicated to men and women.

The percentage of monuments dedicated to people of colour is slightly higher in England too, at 2.3% of the overall number of named people. The percentage for the UK as a whole is under 2%.

Local industries are represented in sculptures, such as pottery manufacture in Stoke-on-Trent, with statues of Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795), Colin Minton Campbell (1827–1885) and Sir Henry Doulton (1820–1897)...

Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795)

Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) 1862

Edward Davis (1813–1878)

Winton Square, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Colin Minton Campbell (1827–1885)

Colin Minton Campbell (1827–1885) 1887

Thomas Brock (1847–1922)

London Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Sir Henry Doulton (1820–1897)

Sir Henry Doulton (1820–1897) 1986

Colin Melbourne (1928–2009)

Market Place, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

...textile manufacturers in Greater Manchester, with monuments to John Kay (1704–c.1779), Sir Benjamin Dobson (1847–1898) and Robert Owen (1771–1858)...

Kay Monument

Kay Monument 1908 or before

William Venn Gough (1842–1918) and John Cassidy (1860–1939)

Haymarket Street, Bury, Greater Manchester

Sir Benjamin Dobson  (1847–1898)

Sir Benjamin Dobson (1847–1898) 1900

John Cassidy (1860–1939)

Victoria Square, Bolton, Greater Manchester

Robert Owen (1771–1858)

Robert Owen (1771–1858) 1994

Gilbert William Bayes (1872–1953) (copy of) and W. E. King (active 1953) (copy of)

Corporation Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester

...and urban planners of Hertforshire towns Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth, with Sir Ebenezer Howard (1850–1928) and Sir Theodore Chambers (1871–1957) commemorated.

Ebenezer Howard (1850–1928), OBE

Ebenezer Howard (1850–1928), OBE 2015

Peter Colvin

Spirella Centre, Bridge Road, Letchworth, Hertfordshire

Sir Theodore Chambers Monument

Sir Theodore Chambers Monument 1970

unknown artist

Bridge Road, Welwyn garden City, Hertfordshire

Scotland

Many public sculptures in Scotland are dedicated to people who embody Scottish identity, such as poet Robert Burns (1759–1796), military leader William Wallace (1270–1305) and King of Scots Robert the Bruce (1274–1329), all of whom have multiple monuments to them.

Robert Burns (1759–1796)

Robert Burns (1759–1796) 1896

Frederick William Pomeroy (1856–1924)

Love Street, Paisley, Renfrewshire

William Wallace (1270–1305)

William Wallace (1270–1305) 1888

William Grant Stevenson (1849–1919)

Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen City, Aberdeen

Robert the Bruce (1274–1329)

Robert the Bruce (1274–1329) 1879

John Hutchison (c.1832–1910)

High Street, Lochmaben, Dumfries and Galloway

Jacobite supporter Flora Macdonald (1722–1790) is commemorated in two monuments.

Flora Macdonald (1722–1790)

Flora Macdonald (1722–1790) 1897

Andrew Davidson (1841–1925)

Castle Wynd, Inverness, Highlands and Islands

Birthplace of Flora Macdonald Monument

Birthplace of Flora Macdonald Monument

unknown artist

A865, Milton, South Uist, Western Isles

There are more monuments to poets in Scotland than in other parts of the UK, with over 40 in Scotland, compared to just over 30 in England. Inventors, golfers and geologists are also more popular subjects for monuments in Scotland.

Other notable named people celebrated in public sculptures include rugby commentator Bill McLaren (1923–2010)...

Bill McLaren (1923–2010)

Bill McLaren (1923–2010) 2002–2013

Angela Hunter (b.1951)

Wilton Lodge Park, Hawick, Scottish Borders

...politician Mary Barbour (1875–1958)...

Mary Barbour (1875–1958)

Mary Barbour (1875–1958)

Andrew Brown

Govan Road, Glasgow

...photographer Linda McCartney (1941–1998)...

Linda McCartney (1941–1998)

Linda McCartney (1941–1998) 2002

Jane Robbins (b.1962)

Argyll and Bute Council

...explorer Leif Eriksson (c.970–c.1020)...

Leif Eriksson (c.970–c.1020)

Leif Eriksson (c.970–c.1020)

August Werner (1893–1980) (after)

Uig Community Centre, Crowlista, Western Isles

...and Winifred J. Drinkwater (1913–1996), the first woman in the world to hold a commercial pilot's licence.

Winifred J. Drinkwater (1913–1996)

Winifred J. Drinkwater (1913–1996) 2005

Kenny Munro (b.1954)

Lapwing Road, Renfrew, Renfrewshire

Wales

Public monuments in Wales include works dedicated to people who have had an impact on the history of Wales and Great Britain, such as Owain Glyndwr (c.1349–c.1416), Aneurin Bevan (1897–1960) and David Lloyd George (1863–1945).

Owain Glyndwr (c.1349–c.1416)

Owain Glyndwr (c.1349–c.1416) 2007

Colin Spofforth (b.1963)

The Square, Corwen, Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych)

Aneurin Bevan (1897–1960)

Aneurin Bevan (1897–1960) 1987 or before

Robert Thomas (1926–1999)

Queen Street, Cardiff (Caerdydd)

David Lloyd George (1863–1945)

David Lloyd George (1863–1945) 1921

William Goscombe John (1860–1952) and Thames Ditton Foundry (active 1874–1920)

Castle Square, Caernarfon, Gwynedd

Also commemorated are Welsh writers, poets and actors including Dylan Thomas (1914–1953) (who has several), Ivor Novello (1893–1951) and Elaine Morgan (1920–2013).

Dylan Thomas (1914–1953)

Dylan Thomas (1914–1953)

Simon Hedger

The Strand, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)

Ivor Novello (1893–1951)

Ivor Novello (1893–1951) 2009

Peter W. Nicholas (1934–2015)

Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff (Caerdydd)

Elaine Morgan (1920–2013)

Elaine Morgan (1920–2013) 2022

Emma Rodgers (b.1974) and Castle Fine Arts

Oxford Street, Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf

Northern Ireland

Several political figures are commemorated in Northern Ireland, including Big Jim Larkin (1874–1947), Patrick Rankin (1889–1964) and Sir Robert James McMordie (1849–1914).

Big Jim Larkin (1874–1947)

Big Jim Larkin (1874–1947) 2006

Anto Brennan

Donagal Street Place, Belfast, County Antrim

Patrick Rankin (1889–1964)

Patrick Rankin (1889–1964)

Barry Linnane (b.1968)

William Street, Newry, County Down

Sir Robert James McMordie (1849–1914)

Sir Robert James McMordie (1849–1914) 1917–1919

Frederick William Pomeroy (1856–1924)

Donegall Square, Belfast, County Antrim

Other people who were born or worked in Northern Ireland and who are celebrated in public sculpture include motorcycle racing brothers Robert Dunlop (1960–2008) and Joey Dunlop (1952–2000)...

Robert Dunlop (1960–2008)

Robert Dunlop (1960–2008)

David Annand (b.1948)

Castle Street, Ballymoney, County Antrim

Joey Dunlop (1952–2000)

Joey Dunlop (1952–2000)

Amanda Barton

Castle Street, Ballymoney, County Antrim

...boxer John 'Rinty' Monaghan (1918–1984)...

John 'Rinty' Monaghan (1918–1984), Boxer

John 'Rinty' Monaghan (1918–1984), Boxer

Alan Beattie Herriot (b.1952)

Buoy Park, Belfast, County Antrim

...shipbuilder Sir Edward Harland (1831–1895)...

Sir Edward Harland (1831–1895)

Sir Edward Harland (1831–1895) 1903

Thomas Brock (1847–1922)

Donegall Square, Belfast, County Antrim

...and Ella Pirrie (1857–1929), the first head nurse in the Belfast Union Workhouse Infirmary (now the Belfast City Hospital).

Ella Pirrie (1857–1929)

Ella Pirrie (1857–1929) 2007

Ross Wilson (b.1958)

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Channel Islands

Public sculpture on the islands includes several monuments to writer Victor Hugo (1805–1885) who lived on Guernsey, and golfer Harry Vardon (1870–1937) who was born on Jersey.

Victor Hugo (1805–1885)

Victor Hugo (1805–1885) 1914

Jean Boucher (1870–1939)

Candie Road, St Peter Port, Guernsey

Harry Vardon (1870–1937)

Harry Vardon (1870–1937) 2001

Gerald Palmer (1935–2017) and Underwood Foundry, Mayenne, France

La Rue Vardon, Gouville, Jersey

Also represented are monuments to naval crew who lost their lives in the sea near the islands.

Isle of Man

Statues of people associated with the island can be found here, such as The Bee Gees, who were born on the Isle of Man, and George Formby (1904–1961).

The Bee Gees

The Bee Gees 2021

Andy Edwards (b.1964) and Castle Fine Arts

Loch Promenade, Douglas, Isle of Man

George Formby (1904–1961)

George Formby (1904–1961)

Amanda Barton

Lord Street, Douglas, Isle of Man

Formby's statue depicts him as his character 'George Shuttleworth', a chimney sweep who enters the Isle of Man TT races in George's 1935 film No Limits, which was made on location in the Isle of Man.

Public sculptures of motorcycle racers Steve Hislop (1962–2003) and Joey Dunlop (1952–2000) (which is a second casting of the work in Northern Ireland) also emphasise the importance of motorcycling on the Isle of Man.

Steve Hislop (1962–2003)

Steve Hislop (1962–2003) 2005

David Annand (b.1948)

Strathallan Road, Onchan, Isle of Man

Joey Dunlop (1952–2000)

Joey Dunlop (1952–2000) 2002

Amanda Barton

Mountain Road, Snaefell, Isle of Man

Do you have a favourite statue in your local area? Let us know on social media (@artukdotorg) and join our celebration now that we've added over 13,000 outdoor sculptures to Art UK. We'll keep adding more as they are unveiled. The UK's public art changes all the time, and we hope new additions to our streets and squares will continue to reflect the country's diversity and ingenuity.

A huge thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who have made the public sculpture recording such a success, and to Anthony McIntosh and Tracy Jenkins, who managed the whole process for Art UK.

Katey Goodwin, Art UK Deputy Director

You can see more public sculptures in these Curations