Marsh Award for Excellence in the Restoration of a Public Sculpture

This is a new Award run in partnership with the Public Monuments & Sculpture Association (PMSA) which recognises an individual or group responsible for the restoration of a public sculpture for the benefit of the wider public.

The PMSA aims to heighten public appreciation of Britain's public sculpture, and to contribute to its preservation, protection and promotion.

The 2013 winner is Jonathan Clarke for Spiral Nebula

Standing in front of the Herschel Building, in Newcastle upon Tyne, is an important post-war 20th century sculpture. Spiral Nebula by Geoffrey Clarke of the Royal Academy is a monumental and striking example of the artist’s work and one of few examples from this period sited in a public location in this city. The sculpture has now been restored by the sculptor’s son, Jonathan Clarke.

Spiral Nebula was commissioned in 1962 by the architect, Sir Basil Spence, for the grounds of the Herschel building. It is a steel structure with painted cast aluminium panels and viewed in relation to the then new physics building’s use, can be taken as a symbol of scientific advances in the 1960s. Yet, the sculpture caused a dispute between Clarke and Spence. It is understood Spence thought that its waxed finish distracted attention from the building and a month after unveiling, the sculpture was flame blasted and painted grey.

Over the past 50 years, the sculpture’s surface and structural condition has inevitably degraded and so Jonathan, who recalled his father designing the sculpture, embarked on conservation work to ensure that it can be appreciated for many years to come. The sculpture has been relocated to an improved position within the premises and audiences can now appreciate the original condition and concept of Clarke’s Spiral Nebula. Missing aluminium panels have been re-cast and cleaning has removed the grey paint from the surface, restoring the sculpture to its former glory.

Pictured above: Spiral Nebula


The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association
70 Cowcross Street

020 7490 5001



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