Nose to Nose, Beginning to End (Richard Deacon)

Nose to Nose, Beginning to End
Credit: Charlie Reilly
Nose to Nose, Beginning to End
Credit: Charlie Reilly
Nose to Nose, Beginning to End
During dismantling phase – Credit: Charlie Reilly
Nose to Nose, Beginning to End
During dismantling phase – Credit: Charlie Reilly
Sponsor, if appropriate

1988 Glasgow Garden Festival Visual Arts Programme

Type of object

Sculpture or other artwork

Current situation



This huge sculpture was fabricated in sections by Govan Shipbuilders Training in their workshops at Holmfauld Road (thanks to an effort by Arts Co-ordinator Isabel Vasseur to involve local traditional industries in the Festival arts programme), to drawings by the artist. The commission stipulated the design of an installation that would capitalise on the opportunity presented by a large stone plinth on which a crane (used, amongst other things, to transfer locomotives aboard cargo ships for export) had previously stood.

Following the end of the Garden Festival, the sculptor was instructed by the developer taking over the site that it was not to be retained. The piece was then removed to Hawthorn Leslie’s Tyneside yard. A series of proposed locations came and went over the next fifteen years: when the British Council relocated its headquarters to Manchester, an offer was made and later withdrawn to site it there; a Nantes gallery moving to a new building initially decided to incorporate it but ran into difficulties, and a proposal to locate it at the new arts centre at South Shields Custom House ran into popular opposition (led by local journalists and councillors opposed to the ‘monstrosity’ being given a public place). An offer to provide a permanent home at a new University of Leicester building was the last chance for the artwork (according to the artist, “despite enthusiasm... there just wasn't the money”), and a while after this (2003) Hawthorn Leslie wrote to the artist explaining that they could no longer afford to store it any longer. It was then scrapped.

A talk by Isabel Vasseur and Richard Deacon covering the Garden Festival, and the story of this work in particular, can be heard here.

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