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Ramsgate sculpture Hands & Molecule voted among the most loved in the UK


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A Kent sculpture has been named among the most-loved in the UK.

Hands and Molecule, situated on Ramsgate seafront, has been voted the nation's seventh best piece of free-to-view outdoor art in a poll of thousands of people.

Hands and Molecule, in Ramsgate, Kent. Picture: Sky Arts
Hands and Molecule, in Ramsgate, Kent. Picture: Sky Arts

Comprising a giant pair of hands holding a molecular structure, the artwork by sculptor David Barnes is described as "a nod to the discovery, development and manufacture of innovative medicines" in Kent.

The 8ft-tall bronze casting was funded by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and installed by Thanet District Council in 2000.

Sitting just off Westcliff Promenade and looking out across Pegwell Bay, it acts as a landmark on the National Cycle Network.

A nationwide poll saw Sky Arts ask 1,000 UK adults to share their favourite pieces of free-to-view outdoor artwork.

The list was then whittled down to a top 20 by curator Clare Lilley, before 2,000 members of the public voted for their favourites - with Hands and Molecule coming seventh.

Ray Lonsdale's 2014 statue, called 1101 - a metal sculpture in County Durham, of a soldier reflecting on the horrors of the First World War - took the crown as the UK's best piece of outdoor artwork.

Ray Lonsdale's 2014 statue, called ‘1101’, also known as 'Tommy'. Picture: Sky Arts
Ray Lonsdale's 2014 statue, called ‘1101’, also known as 'Tommy'. Picture: Sky Arts

Also known as Tommy, it was initially only meant to be a temporary display but following its unveiling it became so popular that locals started a fundraising campaign to have it permanently installed.

Andy Scott's The Kelpies, a giant horse installation in Falkirk, Scotland, came second on the list, followed by the Uffington White Horse - the chalk hill figure in Oxfordshire.

Also in the top five were Antony Gormley's The Angel of the North and Martin Jennings' Women of Steel, in Sheffield.

Clare Lilley, director of programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and an expert judge on Sky Arts' Landmark, said: "This list includes some really nice surprises.

"It’s curious what is missed from the list, such as Barbara Hepworth’s Winged Figure on the side of John Lewis on Oxford Street, and Gillian Wearing’s Real Birmingham Family.

"Perhaps some public works are so integrated with their place that they become unseen. I think the public selection shows how figurative sculpture and narrative are seen to be incredibly important in terms of accessibility and conveying messages.

"Some of the sculptures also indicate the importance of place, forming a kind of bridge between history and now.”

Hands and Molecule, in Ramsgate, Kent. Picture: Sky Arts
Hands and Molecule, in Ramsgate, Kent. Picture: Sky Arts

Also featured in the top 20 are Akse's Marcus Rashford mural in Manchester, Banksy's Girl with a Pierced Eardrum in Bristol, Maggi Hambling's The Scallop on Aldeburgh beach, and Damien Hirst's Verity situated in Ilfracombe harbour.

The poll was held 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 top artists compete for the chance to create a brand-new national landmark.

As part of the series, Sky Arts is investing a total of £700,000 in public art, commissioning 18 new pieces around the country, as well as a final national landmark worth £250,000.

Landmark will air weekly from September 6, at 8pm, on Sky Arts and streaming service NOW.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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