The Physical Energy Project

In 2017, Watts Gallery Trust commissioned a new bronze copy of Watts's most ambitious sculpture to mark the artist's 200th birthday. The monumental plaster model was cast in bronze thanks to the Art Happens crowdfunding campaign (Art Fund) and the donations of friends, volunteers, donors, Compton residents, neighbours, staff, Trustees, artists, workshop participants and so many others.

The bronze was cast at the foundry of Pangolin Editions before being exhibited in the Royal Academy of Art's Annenberg Courtyard to celebrate the bicentenary, coinciding with the Academy's 250th anniversary celebrations. It was seen by an estimated 750,000 people during a five-month display, during which time it also featured in the London Lumière Festival in January 2018.

Physical Energy has a complex past, assuming multiple meanings both within the artist's lifetime and afterwards. Part of the sculpture's history is associated with the commemoration of Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902), the imperialist financier and statesman who played a dominant role in the expansion of the British Empire in Southern Africa.

Plans are underway to display the fourth bronze at Watts Gallery – Artists' Village. 

In preparation for the installation of the cast, the organisation is working in consultation with all our communities to re-examine the ways in which the sculpture's multiple histories can be explored and interpreted today.

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