Paradigm: a permanent public art commission by Conrad Shawcross

24 February 2016

In February 2016, the Francis Crick Institute will have the pleasure of unveiling Paradigm by Conrad Shawcross; a major new public artwork for London to be situated outside its newly built biomedical research centre in the heart of King's Cross.

The commission is the result of a long and carefully considered submission process by the Crick working with Artwise Curators, for a new sculpture which would reflect the ambitions of this new ambitious scientific institute in the centre of London. The winning proposal was selected from submissions by a number of international artists, presented to the Crick art panel headed by the Nobel Prize winner and Director of the Crick, Sir Paul Nurse.

Paradigm will be one of the tallest public sculptures in central London at an imposing 14 metres high, comprised of a twisting stack of tetrahedral blocks made of weathering steel. The work will be a considerable feat of engineering and continues the artist's long standing collaboration with structural engineering practice Structure Workshop. Starting from a base of less than one metre wide, each subsequent tetrahedral form grows steadily in volume until the ultimate tetroid is a monumental five metres in width. Angular, daring and colossal, this newly commissioned work of public art will be a welcome culmination of art, science and engineering standing before a building that will pioneer new frontiers of biomedical research.

Shawcross, who is currently the youngest living artist elected to the Royal Academy, said: "Paradigm is a bold totem for this exciting new addition to London. It is a beacon for progress and endeavour but contains fallibility and should serve as a constant reminder of the precariousness of knowledge. The writing of the scientific philosopher Thomas Kuhn inspired the title of the work as he described in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that in order for ideas to progress old paradigms need to be toppled by new ones. I chose weathered steel as the material for the sculpture due its utilitarian properties and its rich, honest surface making it true to the industrial pallet of the area."

The work is being made by the London based fabricators Benson-Sedgwick.

Paradigm is the culmination of a prolific year for the young British artist which included the major courtyard commission at the Royal Academy during the Summer Exhibition, solo exhibitions at the New Art Centre, Roche Court and Victoria Miro Gallery, and a large scale architectural response (The Optic Cloak) for the Greenwich Peninsula, which is due to be completed in April 2016. The commission for the Crick will surely consolidate his stature, both as a major name on the international stage and as the leading light of a new generation of British sculptors.

The funding for Paradigm has been provided through a generous grant from the Wellcome Trust. The Trust supports the creation of new artistic work that critically engages artists and audiences with biomedical science.

Clare Matterson, Director of Strategy at the Wellcome Trust, said: "After more than two decades of helping to bring the worlds of science and art into contact, we are convinced that extraordinary thinking and making can happen when they mingle. Conrad's work will provide a wonderful monument to the energy generated through collaboration and will, I am sure, quickly become recognised as one of London's most important public artworks."

For press enquiries:

For the Francis Crick Institute

Katie Matthews, Director of Engagement
020 7611 2197 / 07734 955308 |


For Conrad Shawcross and Artwise
Celia Bailey, Paget PR
0207 836 2703 / 07930 442 411 |


Notes to editors:

The Francis Crick Institute is a new and distinctive biomedical research institute. Its purpose built laboratory in the King's Cross area of London will open in 2016. The institute's work - which is already underway at the Crick's Clare Hall, Lincoln's Inn Fields and Mill Hill laboratories - will help to understand why disease develops.

We will find new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat a range of illnesses − such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, infections and neurodegenerative diseases. We will bring together outstanding scientists from all disciplines, carrying out research that will help improve the health and quality of people's lives, and keeping the UK at the forefront of medical innovation. The Francis Crick Institute is a charity supported by the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King's College London.
Conrad Shawcross (b. 1977) explores subjects in his sculpture that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics.
2015 saw the artist starting to tackle public spaces with major works in Dulwich Park, the Royal Academy courtyard and Chatsworth House (Beyond Limits).

In addition to being featured in numerous important group exhibitions since Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2001, Shawcross has also had solo presentations at institutions including New Art Centre, UK (2015); Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (2015); Careyes Foundation, Mexico (2014); The Vinyl Factory, London (2014); ARTMIA Foundation, Beijing (2014); Roundhouse, London (2013); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); MUDAM, Luxembourg (2012); Science Museum, London (2011 - 2012) and Turner Contemporary, Margate (2011).

Shawcross has been an Artist in Residence at the Science Museum, London and is the youngest living member of the Royal Academy of Arts.
The Wellcome Trust is the world's second-highest spending charitable foundation, dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It was created in 1936 on the death of Sir Henry Wellcome and is independent of both political and commercial interests.
The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health.
The Wellcome Trust has made a major contribution to research over the decades, supporting bright minds in the biomedical sciences and the medical humanities and building world-class research environments in universities and other institutions. As well as being a founder and contributing to the cost of establishing the Francis Crick Institute, the Wellcome Trust will also support research within the institute.

Paradigm will cost £475,000 and is funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Artwise Curators (founded in 1996) is a curatorial collective based in London that specialises in curating and producing international contemporary art projects. Working with both leading and emerging artists, designers, and creative thinkers, Artwise curates public art commissions, museum and gallery exhibitions, and innovative art projects for charities and select clients. Artwise has commissioned over 80 artists and has exhibited projects in many inspiring spaces, such as Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; Groninger Museum; Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Milan Central Station, The Whitechapel Gallery, and Design Museum in London.
Recent Artwise projects (2015) include Vita Vitale, The International Pavilion of Azerbaijan, La Biennale di Venezia.
Structure Workshop is an engineering design practice based in London. The practice was founded by Peter Laidler in 2004 and has established a reputation for developing elegant structural solutions for contemporary buildings and large scale artworks. Built work includes permanent and temporary structures across London, the UK and internationally.
Paradigm is the latest in a series of collaborations with Shawcross including The Dappled Light of the Sun for the Royal Academy, Three Perpetual Chords for Dulwich Park, 'Machina' Metamorphoses: Titian for The Royal Opera House and Space Trumpet for Unilever.