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Marking 140 years of King's High: The Spirit of King's is unveiled

King’s High  has marked 140 years of girls’ education, by commissioning a dramatic work of Art.

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 King’s High’s 140th anniversary, and its move to a brand new £45 million school for girls. Richard Nicholson, Head Master of King’s High, comments: ‘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 8-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 comments: ‘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.’

Richard Nicholson adds: ‘Liz’s sculpture takes people along on that journey of discovery, and captures the energy of King’s High, leaping skywards from the canopy of the school, just as our pupils leap into the world.’ 

This has been something of a family affair for King’s High. 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 comments: ‘The elegant simplicity of the Spirit of King’s belies Liz‘s extraordinarily complex design.  The sweep of the sculpture has been achieved through a single ribbon of steel carefully balancing the twist and weight. 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’.

Richard Nicholson adds: ‘Above all, the sculpture is a glorious, confident gesture. It invites each of us to reflect on our individual route through life, challenging and inspiring us to make it as joyous as it can be.’