UCL News


Edward Allington: In pursuit of sculpture

8 January 2019

Sculptures, photographs, drawings, antique ledgers, motorbike parts and toy dinosaurs are part of a new exhibition at the UCL Art Museum, celebrating the legacy of British artist Edward Allington.

Edward Allington and Edward Woodman, Decorative Forms Over The World, Egypt (1991)

The new show Edward Allington: In pursuit of sculpture will include a selection of work by the artist, a former Slade Professor who passed away in 2017 at the age of 66, and is well known for his part in the 1980s New British Sculpture movement.

The exhibition has been curated to express Allington’s concerns and ambitions for sculpture, as well as his composite persona as artist, writer, educator, collector and motorcyclist.

Launching today (8 January 2019), it will be the first instalment of UCL’s Year of Public Sculpture, which will explore what sculpture means, as critical conceptual devices spanning multiple forms, from traditional materials to sound, performance and digital media.

“Edward Allington was the most erudite of sculptors, and with a great sense of humour he inspired generations of artists at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art and beyond. This exhibition will capture and celebrate his unique contribution to British sculpture and the art world more broadly,” said Dr Nina Pearlman, Head of UCL Art Collections.

Fascinated by the classical world and its hold on contemporary imagination, Allington contemplated timely questions about authenticity, origins and truth. Coupled with its neoclassical architecture, the university makes the perfect setting for the first exhibition of the artist’s work since he passed away in 2017.

“In the traditional Print-Room that is the UCL Art Museum, Allington’s work coexists with historical collections and visitors are invited to reflect on the radical qualities of classical heritage, a question that preoccupied Allington throughout his career, “said Dr Pearlman.

Sculpture’s capacity to subvert its surroundings was a recurring theme for Allington. He maintained that most sculptures are made with ideal settings in mind yet are more likely to exist in storage, in a home, an institution or photograph. His exploration of the union of site-sculpture-photography included a longstanding collaboration with renowned photographer Edward Woodman, himself celebrated for capturing British contemporary art with his lens.

Selections from various photographic collaborations feature in the exhibition, including Decorative Forms Over the World, a series that was ongoing since the mid-1980s where Allington and Woodman travelled with an illusionistic drawing – a scroll based on an architectural corbel – and photographed it in different locations and situations. More recently, Heini Schneebeli photographed Allington’s small bronzes which he placed amidst collections in the museums of UCL.

Allington was equally interested in the power of memory and addressed the states of materiality and illusion with playfulness and humour. This is evident in his drawings, which were an integral part of his practice, as well as in Three Japanese Measuring Devices (2016) where three small sculptures are concealed within an antique ledger becoming invisible when the ledger is closed, or Suitcase: Lost World (2010) where a plentiful stream of plastic dinosaurs spills out of a suitcase. These works prompt reflection on the significance of the visible and physical presence of the object, as opposed to our memory of it.

The exhibition is book-ended by one of Allington’s earliest works as a student of ceramics and his final public work in the UK: a collaboration with artist and fellow Slade Professor, Jo Volley. Their drawing has been scaled-up to be 7.5m high to wrap around a pop-up structure in the courtyard of UCL. The work features classical columns, as well as drawing and building instruments, which are overlaid on a chart depicting the growth of UCL in its first 100 years. Inscribed with the UCL motto Cuncti adsint meritaeque expectent praemia palmae (Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward) the piece reflects upon the university’s development.

Edward Allington: In pursuit of sculpture is curated by Dr Andrea Fredericksen, Curator, UCL Art Museum and Dr Nina Pearlman, Head of UCL Art Collections.

The exhibition is free and runs from 8th January – 7th June 2019. It will be closed around Easter from 23rd March – 22 April 2019.



  • Edward Allington and Edward Woodman, Decorative Forms Over The World, Egypt (1991) © Edward Woodman and the artist’s estate. Photo: Edward Woodman

Media contact 

Natasha Downes

tel: +44 20 3108 3844

E: n.downes [at] ucl.ac.uk