Rising star of art world commissioned by the Francis Crick Institute to create stunning public sculpture

03 October 2014


Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, has announced today that the London artist Conrad Shawcross has been commissioned to create a stunning piece of public art for the institute.

Conrad, who was born in Camden, will be creating a majestic tower 14 metres in height. The external sculpture - called Paradigm - will be made of weathered steel and will provide a strong, visual statement for the Crick when it opens in late 2015.

The sculpture will be a feat of engineering. Starting from a base of under one metre wide, that seemingly punctures the pavement, each subsequent tetrahedron form will grow steadily in volume to the top tetrahedron that is a monumental five-metre wide width and height. It will be located at the entrance of the institute.

The Crick, which is currently under construction in King's Cross, will be a new and distinctive biomedical research institute. It will carry out discovery research to help better understand why disease develops and to find new ways to diagnose, prevent and treat a range of illnesses - such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, infections and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Paul Nurse said: "The Crick's success will depend on the way researchers collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines. New advances often occur when we are able to look at things from a different perspective. Conrad's stimulating design for Paradigm draws on both artistic and scientific inspiration. It's also an exceptional piece of engineering and will be a striking new piece of public art for London."

Conrad, who is the youngest living artist to be elected to the Royal Academy, said: "Paradigm is inspired by science and ideas of science and is also a metaphor for potential; the potential to grow, to take risks, to be bold and brave. All qualities which are necessary for scientific progress and qualities which I think the Crick's researchers will have in abundance. I chose weathered steel as the material for the sculpture because it is true to the industrial history of the area, will be fabricated locally and is designed to be robust and practical."

Conrad received the prestigious Jack Goldhill Award for Best Sculpture in the RA Summer Exhibition 2014 for his Study for Paradigm.

The funding for Paradigm has been provided by a 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, Head 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." 


Notes to editors: 

For the Francis Crick Institute, please contact:

Alex Hartnall, Communications Manager, 020 7611 2215 or alex.hartnall@crick.ac.uk  


Katie Matthews, Head of Communications and Engagement, 020 7611 2197 / 07734 955308 or katie.matthews@crick.ac.uk


For Conrad Shawcross, please contact:

Laura Culpan, Director, Artwise Curators, 020 8563 9495 or laura@artwisecurators.com


The Francis Crick Institute 

The Francis Crick Institute will be a world-leading centre of biomedical research and innovation. It will promote connections between researchers, between disciplines, and between academic institutions, healthcare organisations and businesses.  Dedicated to research excellence, the institute will have the scale, vision and expertise to tackle challenging scientific questions underpinning health and disease.

Due to open in 2015, 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. It will be world-class with a strong national role - training scientists and developing ideas for public good. www.crick.ac.uk


Conrad Shawcross

Born in Camden, London in 1977, Shawcross came to prominence early on in his artistic career when he shown in 2001 in the (Bloomberg) New Contemporaries exhibition and then in 2004 at the New Blood exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in County Halls.

Conrad's works are some way between machine and sculptures: sometimes kinetic and always based, in someway, on scientific experimentation, theories and concepts.

Shawcross has been artist-in-residence at the Science Museum London (2011-12) and has had commissions and exhibitions in major museums all over the world. Elected in 2014 as a Royal Academician making him the youngest living Royal Academician.


Wellcome Trust

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. www.wellcome.ac.uk