Public art: 'The Sustainability Dancer' unveiling

‘The Sustainability Dancer’ sculpture by Sheffield based multidisciplinary artist Anthony Bennett was unveiled at an exhibition of INTERSECTION’s creative endeavours.

This public artwork was commissioned by the INTERSECTION team to capture the findings of the research project across Sheffield (UK), Jinja (Uganda), and Nanjing (China); in order to stimulate reflection on how we might create a society for all ages and to remind us of our obligations to future generations.

Gill and sculptors at unveiling

Crowd at Sustainability Dancer

Man looking at Sustainability Dancer poster

Woman looking at Sustainability Dancer poster

Natalie Bennett and colleague discuss statue

Three women chatting at statue unveiling

The event also included an opportunity to watch the Project film, to view the poster exhibition and time capsule poem, and to talk to the research team about the findings and next steps. Participants included some of those who took part in the research, members of the public, local policy makers and practitioners, academics working in the field of sustainability, and members of the INTERSECTION advisory board.

Sustainability Dancer by Anthony Bennett

The Sculpture

This sculpture draws upon the creative ideas expressed by the people of Nanjing in China, Jinja in Uganda and Sheffield in the UK.

The ballerina is balanced ‘on-point’, precariously, on a felled tree. Her gilded arms are outstretched echoing the universal figure of ‘justice’ - traditionally depicted sword and scales - but here she wields a chainsaw and shopping bags as symbols of environmental degradation and consumerism. The chainsaw represented in the form of a child’s cake – at once innocent, and yet dangerous in the paradox of its naivety. The threelayer cake of her ‘tutu’ draws upon the main themes expressed by the people of
three cities.

Sheffield sculptor Anthony Bennett explains: “In Jinja, Nanjing and Sheffield Intersection worked with different age groups, getting them to create theatrical tableaus addressing their concerns about sustainability and responsibility.

“ The sculpture is my reaction to their concerns. It’s three groups of three generations which made me think of six-sided shapes. There’s 18 faces addressing different things to do with sustainability - such as sustainable fishing, eroded and parched earth, industry, pollution, finance, and blingculture”.

There are representations of the places themselves such as the walls surrounding the city of Nanjing; Chinese script, paper-cuttings and parasols – which were part of an ongoing protest against the felling of parasol trees – a theme shared with the Sheffield layer.

The tie represents the ubiquitous ‘man in the suit’, the ‘phones and the playing cards represent technology, but also the ‘magician’s’ sleight-of-hand in consumerism and fast-food production.

“Each facet of the cakes represents a narrative from those involved,” says Anthony. “The cake theme in general, came from thinking about inter-generational actions; times when generations come together – marriages, birthdays and christenings – when the focal point is always the cake, a celebration of their past, present and a hopeful future. But the Intersection cake is also a manifestation, and forewarning, of where we are in our world; a finely balanced global get together where some people get a small piece of the cake, some get
a large piece.”

Anthony was born in the Black Country in the West Midlands but has lived in Sheffield since 1980. His work draws upon his working-class roots; “I like working with people who are not artists – and I create my artworks for them. Each of the elements of this sculpture are like doorways into a fantastical theme park, hopefully people will be intrigued to open one.

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