Liverpool Plinth 2018 - 2019


Material: Fibreglass, steel, automotive paint.

Dimensions: L. 9’9” W. 4’6”

Date: 2014


Gold Lamé * will hover above the roof of Liverpool Parish Church, also known as St Nick’s overlooking Chapel Street, the waterfront and Liver Building for the next 12 months. It is the first sculpture to occupy the plinth following a collaboration between Liverpool BID Company and Liverpool Parish Church who commissioned city gallery and art organisation, dot-art, to showcase sculptors in the north.

Bill Addy, chief executive of

Liverpool BID Company, said:


"Gold Lamé certainly grabs the eye but carries an important message as well. We are sure it will be a welcome new addition to the area and enjoyed by businesses, residents and visitors over the coming year."


Lucy Byrne, managing director

of dot-art, said:


"We set out to give established and up-and-coming sculptors in the north a unique opportunity to showcase their works at one of Liverpool's most iconic buildings. We were inundated with some fantastic submissions, but it was Tony Heaton's Gold Lamé that really struck a chord. Dazzling, humorous, and equally meaningful, like all great art, Gold Lamé will spark conversation and put a smile on people's faces."


The Reverend Dr. Crispin Pailing,

rector of Liverpool, added:


We are over the moon that a thrilling piece of new art has found a new home in one of the most beautiful areas of the city. Visitors to the area will hopefully engage and feel inspired by this new sculpture."





Unveiling the Plinth, video by Paul Frost

*for more information on Gold Lamé see below....




Material: Fibreglass, steel, automotive paint.

Dimensions: L. 9’9” W. 4’6”

Date: 2014


This sculpture began, as many do, with a conversation.


This particular conversation was with the Curator of the ‘Art of the Lived Experiment’, Aaron Williamson, concerning alchemy, the idea of turning a base metal into gold, turning something of little value into a substance of value, a speculative philosophy. The objective of alchemy, the quest for transmutation, was often primarily aimed at effecting personal change in the Alchemist.


The changing of objects and meaning has been constant within my practice as an artist, and, for this current work and response to the idea of ‘the art of the lived experiment’ I have selected an iconic object, the Invacar, and the notion of transmutation, the effecting of personal change.


Its complicated, I transmuted from Biker to Invalid.


I was issued with an Invacar in 1971.


The Invacar was a societal response, initiated by government, to the lack of access to so-called public transport. The solution was to provide Invalids with a form of very cheap transport, though considered a prosthetic, a medical replacement for legs.


 An unlined fiberglass shell, 9’.9” long and 4’.6” wide, a single seat, sat on a chassis of three wheels, space for a folding wheelchair, propelled by a small motorcycle engine with a cubic capacity of 197, three gears plus reverse and a maximum speed of around 45 mph. The single seat meant that you travelled alone, the assumption had to be that you had no friends, family, lovers, the solitary cripple, other.


They were all painted the same colour, to mark you out as other. A pale blue, NHS Blue, this became know as Spazz Blue.


It was banned from motorways. This was clearly stated on all motorway signage. No Invalid Carriages. It disappeared from the roads of Britain in 1983, and like all icons can now only be witnessed, restored pristine, in the museum.


But this one escaped, suspended, transformed from prosthetic to sculpture, transmuted from Spazz Blue to Gold, Lame to Lamé.




Read Disability Arts Online review HERE





This sculpture brings together a number of aspects that have become intrinsic to my work: principally the circle, square and triangle, simple archetype geometry that reoccurs.

The circle, symbol of perfection and eternity; Jung described it as the symbol of the self.

The square, associated with stability, the points of the compass, the four elements, seasons.

When juxtaposed the circle and square are considered to symbolise oneness, the elimination of imperfections and impairments.

The mathematical challenge attempted by Alchemists to try to square a circle was proved to be an impossibility.


The work consolidates these elements in an attempt to describe wholeness by bringing together the five separate and complete individual blocks and uniting them in the geometry.


The question is posed that the power at the centre, by the nature and juxtaposition of the work, is rendered inaccessible to many.

Joe Bidder profiles Tony Heaton, a leading artist and major figure within the Disability Arts movement.

The interview was commissioned by DAO

Maquette of Squarinthecircle?


 A £50,000 Arts Council commission to make a large scale sculpture sited at the University of Portsmouth is a significant new achievement for disabled artist, Tony Heaton. His five-piece 25 foot diameter sculpture constructed in Portland stone will be the permanent centre-piece of SquaringtheCircle?, a Dada-South collaborative arts project in partnership with Diablo Arts, the University of Portsmouth, St George's Beneficial School and the Portsea community.


The project, managed by Zoe Partington, includes other disabled artists Signdance Collective, Jon Adams, Joolz Cave-Berry, Mark Ware, architects, staff and students, school children, and monumental masons based at the world-famous Dorset quarry. Squaring the Circle is a complex partnership but one relished by Tony Heaton as he develops the design, carving, finishing, placement and dedication of this massive eleven ton installation. The artistic vision is rooted in disability arts: an irregular circle of five carved stone seats - its inner sanctum inaccessible to wheelchair users. The largest piece of disability art ever erected in the UK, it will stimulate discussion, learning and controversy.


Winning competitions is nothing new for Heaton who has public art work standing in Beswick, Manchester (GreyMares), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and at other locations. Born in Preston in 1954 and taking inspiration from his father, a coppersmith who had designed and built a sailing boat from recycled timber including a teak bar-top from a demolished pub, Heaton, an admirer of the ambiguous poetry of Leonard Cohen, has described himself somewhat self-deprecatingly as a fiddler of bits.

Impaired by a spinal injury at 16, he switched from a comprehensive school to a local arts college at Southport but made a decisive move in 1972 when he opted for self employment as artist, sign writer, disc jockey, record shop (punk and new wave) proprietor, progressive rock band member and painter  of murals. Heaton gathered enormous expertise and self-reliance whilst appearing to drift aimlessly. In 1986 he changed direction once  more when he enrolled on a visual arts degree at Lancaster University whilst earning a living as a sign-painter.


A contemporary of Andy Goldsworthy, Heaton experimented with environmental sculpture on the seemingly endless sands at Morecambe Bay where his work could be seen for 15 miles. Observing

his tracks in the sand, Lancaster's head of sculpture, Paul Hatton,

urged him to develop this sense of difference into a rich source of unique work. Heaton states, “A chance comment about how the marks left in the sand by my feet and crutches made my tracks immediately identifiable became the catalyst for a whole series of works relating to disability and my interaction with the environment.” Heaton exhibited a plaster cast of his feet and stick imprints, his first piece of disability art although at that time he had no knowledge of its existence nor of the emerging disability arts movement.


Significant sculptures followed - many with witty punning titles, such as Wheelchair Entrance, Spring Back and Great Britain from a Wheelchair. These caught the attention of LDAF who commissioned him for Euroday '91 to construct Shaken Not Stirred, a seven-foot high pyramid of 1,680 charity collection cans which Heaton demolished theatrically with a Doc Marten boot attached to an artificial leg. The performance was repeated to great effect at the Block Telethon event in London, filmed for BBC2 and reported in the national press. [See reviews of Heaton's work by distinguished disabled artists/critics Adam Reynolds, Allan Sutherland, Katherine Walsh and Deborah Williams published in DAIL and DAM magazines].




'Great Britain from a Wheelchair' is a map of Britain made from parts of two grey NHS wheelchairs. When Tony first told me about this work as he was making it, it seemed a rather foolish and unworkable idea. I was wrong: it's wonderful - I described it elsewhere as 'like a disability version of one of my very favourite art works, the bull's head which Pablo Picasso made from a bicycle saddle and handlebars.' First seeing it, in the 'Unleashed' exhibition earlier this year, I found that initially it just looked like a lot of bits of old wheelchairs. As with those 3D prints, it took a while to adjust perceptually. Then suddenly it sprang into place - a complete, startlingly real map of Great Britain.


A delightful game, it forms a wonderful repudiation of the value judgement ('This is for some tragic bastard', in Tony's words) implicit in the wheelchairs.


Allan Sutherland (edited from DAIL magazine)



A simple, visual pun, constructed from two ex-ministry Vessa Wheelchairs.The experience of Great Britain from a Wheelchair is somewhat different.

 Imbeau, and fashion design graduate and competition winner, Hannah Gourlay.


The installation was created on the Big 4, on behalf of Tony Heaton, by FreeState Ltd – working alongside sub-contractors Millimetre Ltd, Atelier One Ltd, Enliten Architectural Lighting Ltd, and Syrett Neon International.

"This a bold representation of Channel 4’s commitment to changing attitudes to disability with our coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.”


Channel 4’s Chief Executive David Abraham

See 'The Economist' article HERE


See 'The Independent' article by Mary Dejevsky  HERE  Monday 27 Aug 2012


Channel 4’s Chief Executive David Abraham today unveiled the latest installation on the ‘Big 4’ outside the corporation’s Horseferry Road headquarters – the design of which celebrates Channel 4’s involvement and commitment to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.


The installation, Monument to the Unintended Performer, is by disabled sculptor and artist Tony Heaton. The piece brings together three elements in addition to the Big 4: the first based on the classical Greek sculpture Discobulus, the discus thrower, evoking the spirit of the Olympics; the second element, a circle, representing the wheel of the international symbol of access; and lastly, the introduction of gold, silver and bronze considers hierarchy.


The latest installation on the Big 4 was unveiled as Channel 4 launched its coverage of the 2012 Paralympic Games at an event attended by Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of LOCOG.


Tony Heaton said: “I wanted to use the structure of the Big 4 as one of four elements that would fuse together to form a new cohesive piece – which would provoke thought and celebrate Channel 4’s involvement and commitment to the Paralympics. The subtext of the piece is the assertion that disabled people are almost always the object of scrutiny and curiosity.”


David Abraham said: This new installation by Tony Heaton is a striking addition to the iconic Big 4 and is a bold representation of Channel 4’s commitment to changing attitudes to disability with our coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.”


Tony Heaton has worked as a sculptor since the inception of what became known as disability arts, a movement inextricably linked to the politics of disability. His performance piece ‘Shaken not Stirred’ – created from the stacking into a pyramid of 1,760 red charity collecting tins and then destroyed by the hurling into it of a prosthetic leg with a steel toe capped boot for the ‘Block Telethon’ campaign – was part of a seminal moment where disabled activists protested against the televising of Telethon and demanded rights not charity. Similarly, the assemblage, ‘Great Britain from a Wheelchair’ – a map of Britain constructed solely from the deconstructed parts of two condemned ex-ministry wheelchairs - has become an enduring image of that time.


The 50 foot high Big 4 was built in 2007 to celebrate Channel 4’s 25th anniversary and has previously been customised by acclaimed photographer Nick Knight, Turner Prize Titchner, renowned Ghanaian

sculptor El Anatsui, art graduate and competition winner Stephanie



Sculptured plinths for Lord Coe and Sir Phillip Craven, commissioned by LOCOG for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Greymares was the result of winning a public art competition run by Community Arts North West and Manchester City Council, collaborating with a local school who wanted horses reflected in the work. The work is sited at Greymares Lane in Beswick, Greater Manchester. Research showed that the area was once a common and popular resting point for gypsies. I developed the sculpture to reflect horses and fairgrounds by depicting Gallopers, one of the traditional fairground rides. These gallopers were cut from stainless steel plate by laser water jet technology at Barrow in Furness shipyard. The two metre long horses were prefabricated at Kendal with a central ball bearing race seated in a rubberised housing which allows the sculpture to rotate like a weather vane. The sculpture sits on top of a 25 foot brick column. A blue glazed brick spirals around the column, suggesting movement. A seat running around the base of the column invites people to use the sculpture as a meeting place.



The sculpture is constructed from individual vertebrae made from porcelain, fired and then connected by pouring paper clay and re-firing.

Did you sleep with the fates?

Did they ride pillion with you that night?

Did those three goddesses

Possess you and do they now control your destiny?

Perhaps so, for it seems to me that it is more than

Irony that presides here.

There seems a predestined inevitability,

Predetermined power principles

That have dictated your consequence

Of being born to be wild.

The price you now pay back

By instalments. Piece by piece.

The latest gift you brought as promised

Carries with it a certain realisation

In its creation, that time like the tables

Continue to turn and ultimately the numbers

Do come around again.

A reminder that life is equally extraordinary,

Beautiful and brutal. Life is the real deal,

And needs to be gambled.

It sits in the alcove in the space

In which you envisaged it

A niche of measured proportions

That would frame your rachis.

Cock sure that this construction

Would fit.

Certain that you could manipulate

Its primary and secondary intent.

But then it happened. As before.

Shattered in transit - the penalty

For being experimental

For daring to move your form at speed

Without due care; without sufficient


And so the table turned

And so the bet was laid

Thus, you both came

Together. Individually unified

As I had expected,

And perversely hoped;

Deranged. In pieces.

Fractured. Rebuilt. Redesigned and

Systematically reassembled.


Stronger in repair.

More interesting and challenging.

Throwing up questions and enquiry.

Ejaculating a brief pious utterance of prayer.

“It is finished”.

As always my friend you’ve delivered

A wonderful dichotomous.

Produced by timely fate rather than accident

Two erections for the price of one.


Raymond C Bramford

from 'Virginal Blues' poems and prose, 2007



 A series of land -based ephemeral works made with sculptor Peter Graham on Morecambe Bay in Silverdale, Lancashire.

 Represented by:  Anne Yates


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