HARLOW has consolidated its growing reputation as a top destination for arts lovers after scooping a prestigious public sculpture award.
The town – which has the largest collection of public sculpture per head of population in the UK - has been awarded the Marsh Prize for Excellence in Public Sculpture for its longstanding commitment to the commissioning, installation and care of public works of art.
Competition judges were impressed by the sheer range of sculpture on display in the town, which ranges from works by renowned post-war artists including Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Elizabeth Frink and Lynn Chadwick to pieces from contemporary sculptors Will Spankie, Nick Turvey and Ekkehard Altenburger.
The panel also made special mention of Harlow Art Trust and the council’s ongoing commitment to the commissioning of new sculptures for Harlow and for the "excellent" work in publicising the existence of the art works through catalogues, maps and active education programmes.
It is the first time that judges from The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association and Marsh Christian Trust have offered an award to an entire town.
Councillor Joel Charles, portfolio holder for community and citizenship, said the award cemented Harlow’s "outstanding reputation" for the arts.
"This prestigious award underlines the fact that Harlow is now firmly on the national arts map with a collection of real significance," he told the Star.
"Public sculpture has been at the heart of our town since its inception and our outdoor collection has continued to grow over the years.
"The fact that one of Britain's best known sculptors, John Mills, chose to hold a rare retrospective in our Gibberd Gallery this year is evidence of the outstandingreputation Harlow now has for the arts.
Will Rea, chairman of Harlow Art Trust, added: "Harlow Art Trust is thrilled and delighted that Harlow Sculpture Town has been recognised and rewarded by the Marsh Christian Trust and PMSA for this prestigious prize.
"It is recognition of Harlow’s collection and the hard work of the Harlow Art Trust, its partners and the town."
The 2011 prize will be presented by His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester at a ceremony in London on November 2.