Giant sea god statue installed in Derbyshire tourist hotspot

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The unveiling of a three-metre-tall oak sculpture of Neptune at a key Derbyshire tourist attraction marked the launch of an annual international sculpture prize designed to celebrate today’s best established and emerging artists. The Mercia Marina Sculpture Prize is endowed with a prize of £10,000 – one of the most valuable sculpture prizes available.

Additionally, the marina owners have committed to purchasing the first piece and installing it permanently on site. All entries will be displayed at the Marina between September 10 and 11, where a jury, including Mark Richards, a member of the London-based Royal Society of Sculptors, will choose an outright winner. The remaining works will either be purchased, auctioned off by the marina, or returned to their creators.

Artists are invited to submit ideas, on any weatherproof medium, for sculptures up to two meters high, this year around the theme of water. There will be a shortlist of five entries.



Neptune with the man who sculpted it, Alistair Farson

John Thornton, principal shareholder of Mercia Marina, said: “The main objective of this annual award is to allow the many artists to show their incredible talent. And we are delighted to have the involvement of the Royal Society of Sculptors confirmed by guest judge Mark Richards.

“Sculpture rarely fails to captivate its audience, especially when created on a scale that can be viewed from many angles and distances. As an art form, sculpture also has a unique ability to complement and improve its environment.

“The beautiful and tranquil location we are fortunate to have at the marina, with its expanse of water and wildlife trails, lends itself perfectly to carving. We have already commissioned several exceptional pieces, but we are keen to install more to create a destination not only for boating, lodges, shopping and relaxation, but as a champion of the arts.”

As well as the giant new wood carving of Neptune, created by Derbyshire artist Alistair Farson, Mercia Marina has also commissioned sculptures, including the two-metre tall Bird of Happiness, cast in bronze by famed sculptor Simon Gudgeon. Simon is best known for his 10ft bronze Isis sculpture in London’s Hyde Park.

Submissions for the Mercia Marina Sculpture Prize may be created with any material suitable for year-round outdoor display, although organizers give particular preference to works using durable materials. The marina has a limited supply of oak or Douglas fir which it will provide free of charge to woodworking artists upon request.

New and established artists are invited to apply by sending five images of their recent work along with a short CV and a statement outlining how they might use Mercia Marina to inform their work for the competition. For more information, click here.

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