British Contemporary Artist Selected to Create Live Sculpture Commission at Expo 2020

The Royal Society of Sculptors and the Department for International Trade, have announced that Nicola Anthony is the UK artist selected for the Live Sculpture Commission for the cultural programme of the UK at Expo 2020 Dubai taking place from 1st October 2021 to 31st March 2022.

Under the commissioning theme, ‘See Things Differently’, Anthony will produce new work inside the Es Devlin designed UK Pavilion over ten days in November, presenting visitors a front row seat to the creative process.

The commission will feature in company with a host of talent from across the UK’s creative industries, during ‘In the Future, How Will We Create?’, a five-day innovation themed event from 9th -13th November that will explore how creativity can tackle some of the significant challenges of our time.

The programme will include a summit on the future of creativity and panel discussions with keynote speakers and podcasts from across arts, design and media. They include Es Devlin, artist and designer of the UK Pavilion, Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A and Martin Green CBE, the Head of Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games who is now Chief Creative Officer for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Festival UK* 2022.

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Nicola Anthony was chosen by an industry panel led by Clare Burnett, President of the Royal Society of Sculptors, with Dr Paul Thompson, Vice Chancellor of the Royal College of Art (Heritage partner of the UK Pavilion) and Dan Ramsey, Director, GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland campaign.


Nicola Anthony is an artist known for metal text sculptures and burned paper assemblages, which give glimpses into the effects of displacement, migration, intergenerational trauma, and emergent behaviour in society. She focuses her research on untold narratives, collective memory, hybrid intelligence and the embodiment of life stories. She is also influenced by epigenetics, big data, linguistics, and the inseparable existence of nature and culture.

Nicola Anthony said: “The sculpture is created from suspended fragments, which form a delicate hourglass shape. I often use this shape in my sculpture to symbolise important moments and turning points. In this work it also references the tipping point which we are fast approaching with our environment, and I hope that the audience will think about sustainability, balance, and regeneration.

The Flow of Time by Nicola Anthoiny. Credit: Singapore Art Museum

The artwork also seeks to highlight the connection between present and future actions, and how everything is interconnected in virtuous or vicious cycles,” she continued. “This opportunity is meaningful for me – not only because of the honour to be selected for the UK Pavilion, but also because the theme resonates powerfully with the soul of my artwork, and the reason why I chose this path.”

Speaking on the selection of the artist, Clare Burnett said: “The brief for this commission called a work that responds to the theme of “seeing things differently”. I am delighted that Nicola Anthony has been chosen to represent the Society at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Nicola weaves powerful stories through her work which employs technology and data. For this commission suspended fragments will form a delicate hourglass in which LED “sand” responds to real time hashtag activity. Viewed through the hourglass, the “sand” depicts the Earth”.

UK Commissioner General for Expo 202 Dubai, Laura Faulker OBE, said: “The UK has long inspired the world through our creative industries, so we are all excited that such an accomplished sculptor will be creating a new piece at the Pavilion.

Creativity is the spark for innovation and seeing things differently is something we will all have to do to overcome global challenges. The Live Sculpture Commission will be an incredible addition to our cultural programme and we can’t wait for visitors to the UK Pavilion to experience it.”

The UK Pavilion has been conceptualised and outlined by Es Devlin OBE with global brand experience specialists, Avantgarde and will showcase British innovations set to change the world, from artificial intelligence and space technology to sustainable food and fashion. The UK’s participation theme is ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’.

For more information on the UK Pavilion, click here.

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