Tommy statue in Seaham beats the Falkirk Kelpies to be named UK’s best outdoor artwork in nationwide poll

A much-loved North East sculpture has been voted as the nation’s favourite piece of outdoor artwork.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 11:00 am
Tommy statue in Seaham became a permanent feature on the seafront in 2015.

The Tommy statue made it to the top spot of the list after more than 2,000 UK adults voted in a Sky Arts poll asking them to select their favourite outdoor artwork.

The iconic statue was up against 19 other pieces of art, including the Marcus Rashford mural in Manchester, Bansky’s Girl with the Pearl Earring in Bristol and The Angel of the North.

The list of 20 finalists was put together after Sky Arts asked 1,000 UK adults to share their favourite pieces of free-to-view outdoor artwork.

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Curator Clare Lilley then whittled down the public’s selection to a top 20, before 2,000 people voted in the final poll.

‘Tommy’ topped the list ahead of Andy Scott's ‘Kelpies’, a giant horse installation in Falkirk, Scotland and the ‘Uffington White Horse’, the chalk hill figure in Oxfordshire.

Making up the top five was also another well-known North East sculpture, ‘The Angel of the North’, by Antony Gormley, followed by Martin Jennings' 'Women of Steel' in Sheffield in fifth place.

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An iconic feature of the Seaham landscape, ‘Tommy’ was initially only meant to be a temporary display.

But the the First World War inspired sculpture captured the hearts of the community and the public started a fundraising campaign to have it permanently installed.

The 1.2tonne steel artwork, which was originally called Eleven O One, became permanent feature on the Terrace Green in 2015 after over £102,000 was successfully raised.

A time capsule containing donated items, including a letter from the sculpture’s creator Ray Lonsdale, a T-shirt, children's artworks, war remembrances, and a Victory Medal was also buried beneath it.

The outdoor artwork poll was launched by Sky Arts to celebrate the launch of its new series, Landmark, which will see a new wave of public art in the UK as the country’s best artists compete for the chance to create a brand-new national landmark.

The new show is fronted by Gemma Cairney and airs weekly from September 6 at 8pm on Sky Arts (Freeview Channel 11) and streaming service NOW.

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