King’s High School has marked 140 years of girls’ education, by commissioning and unveiling an eight metre sculpture.
Kathleen Soriano, chair of Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, and former director of Compton Verney, unveiled 'The Spirit of King’s' at a ceremony to mark the school's anniversary, and its move to a new site.
Richard Nicholson, Head Master of King’s High, said: "We decided to commission something spectacular and lasting, to celebrate 140 years of educating girls, and these key moments in our school’s history.
"Reflecting on what made the King’s community so special, the answer was: our spirit. It was therefore important that our signature sculpture should capture this unique quality."
The eight-metre polished steel sculpture, which stands taller than the school buildings, is the work of sculptor, Liz Middleton, who was recently invited to carve a modern ‘grotesque’ for St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Liz Middleton spent three months researching King’s High’s pioneering history, talking with pupils and former pupils, discussing what the school meant to them.
She said: "It was really inspiring, spending time with the girls, seeing them start their exciting journey at school, and how that develops over time, as they learn, change direction, and take risks.
"I wanted to express the ambition, dynamism and compelling energy I felt at the school and heard from the school community. I love the harmony between the effort, skill and power required to bend stainless steel, and the gestural lightness and joy of the form."
The sculpture was made possible due to the generosity of a former pupil, Aileen Littleton. Aileen worked as school secretary at King’s High for a time, and was a tour guide for St Mary’s, Warwick.
Another former pupil, Sarah Collicott, founder of Artscape Management, whose public art projects include Tottenham Hotspur stadium and Trafalgar Square’s 2020 Fourth Plinth, commissioned Liz Middleton and curated the project.
Sarah Collicott said: "The elegant simplicity of the Spirit of King’s belies Liz‘s extraordinarily complex design.
"Today it is rare for site specific artworks to be commissioned independently and for a school to choose to do so, and to engage the students so closely, is visionary, progressive and very exciting."