Since leaving the Royal College of Art in London, where Henry Moore personally funded him throughout his MA sculpture course, John Atkin has exhibited his work and created commisioned sculptures worldwide. Atkin has a recognized track record for delivering cutting edge artworks, and he has been the subject of widespread media interest and editorials that focus on his work in public spaces, both in the UK and internationally. He has worked on innovative urban regeneration plans as Lead Artist, as well as signature gateway designs for projects that require distinctive interpretations of themes linked to heritage, celebration, or innovation.
Atkin’s research interest lies in the interaction of people with artworks that change a space into a place. In this way, the community secures a landmark for the area and a meeting point for all generations and cultures. He has recently completed a series of innovative artworks for Kent County Council, where his role as Lead Artist for their groundbreaking Breaking Boundaries “shared space” highways project has won several major awards and is the subject of widespread critical acclaim. This award-winning interdisciplinary project involved working alongside Landscape Architects and Highway Engineers to complete a range of innovative arterial structures (such as roundabouts, terracing, and street furniture) that reflect on Ashford’s cultural heritage within a contemporary context.
Atkin was invited to enter a competition in California focusing on the regeneration of the Fillmore District of San Francisco and collaborating with AXIS Architects and Sculpturesite Gallery on delivering a coherent public realm that addressed the locale's indelible heritage as the home of West Coast Jazz. Atkin’s involvement in this landmark project involved the delivery of a signature sculpture that successfully acts as an illuminated beacon for the area’s regeneration. The use of water and lighting are key components of this project, allowing the space to be used year-round and at all times of day.
“Strange Meeting” was commissioned by Beijing Municipal Government to celebrate the cultural emphasis of the Olympics at the “One World, One Dream” exhibition in Olympic Park, Beijing. This 27-ton marble and granite artwork formed part of an exhibition of twenty-six artists selected from a global application of 2,600 people. The popularity of the sculpture resulted in its permanent location adjacent to the Birds Nest Stadium.
Beginning in 2011, worldwide interest in Atkin’s output in relation to urban regeneration projects that embrace public realm initiatives surged. The focus of his activities in China have ranged from international sculpture parks to high-tech eco parks, and conferences and symposiums that address the cultural imperatives in city planning, which is at the heart of China’s booming economy. In addition, he is the UK Representative for the EU-China touring exhibition, “Inspiring Culture,” which has been touring nine major museums in China beginning in 2011, alongside representatives of 27 other EU countries, coinciding with the EU–China Economic Summit in Xian in September, 2011.
His studio continues to be the vital element in the development of his work that embraces all aspects of cross-disciplinary design culture within urban planning and the public realm.
2015 "Tide Wonders," 2016 The First International Sculpture Exhibition, Jin Yong Academy, Haining City, Zhejiang Province, China
2015 Arts & Science Collaboration: Design School of Loughborough University, The National Centre for Craft and Design, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, UK
2015 "25th Anniversary," Sculpturesite Gallery, Glen Ellen, CA
2014 Museu Nacional Scienca - Politecnica Lisboa, Portugal
2014 "67 67 Drawbridge," eight works on paper, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore
2014 "Made in England," Jinji Lake Art Museum, Suzhou, China
2013 "Warriors," Kouros Gallery, Ridgefield, CT
2013 "Qu Art," China Suzhou Cultural & Creative Design Industry Fair, Suzhou, China
2013 "Creative Cities," Two-City Exhibition, London, UK/Beijing, China
2013 "Dialogue with Emperor Qin," Dalian Zhongshan Art Museum, Liaoning, China
2013 "Dialogue with Emperor Qin," Talinn Art Museum, Talinn, Estonia
2011-2013 “Dialogue with Emperor Qin - China and EU Sculpture Show,” touring Exhibition, Inspring Culture - Qu Art: Shaanxi Provincial Art Museum, Xian, China; Shandong Province Art Museum, Jinan, China; Urumqi Art Museum, Urumqi, China; Fujian Art Museum, Fuzhou City, China; Ningbo Art Museum, Ningbo, China; Heilongjiang Art Museum, Harbin City, China; Changshu Art Museum, Jiangsu, China
2012 “HEADS UP! The Human Head Interpreted by 7 Sculptors," a new leaf gallery | sculpturesite, Sonoma, CA
2012 "The Art of Sport," Guildford Cathedral, Surrey, London, UK
2012 "Precious Light - City of God," with Dave Mach, Galway Arts Centre, Ireland
2012 "Creative Cities," Two-City Exhibition, The Barbican Arts Centre, London, UK/Beijing, China
2011 “Precious Light – City of God,” Edinburgh City Art Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
2011 “Blue Symphony,” NanDaiHe, Beijing, China
2011 “The 3rd China Changchun,” World Sculpture Symposium Exhibition, Changchun, China
2010 FADA LA Art Fair, with Sculpturesite Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2008 “The Big Idea,” Albemarle Gallery, London, UK
2008 “Hard Bop – Film Preview,” Lush Life Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2007 “The Imagined and the Real," Cartwright Hall, Lister Hall, Bradford, UK
2007 Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney, Australia
2006 “Drawings and Sculptures,” The Salon Gallery, RBS, London, UK
2006 “Cass Sculpture Foundation,” The London Information Centre and Gallery, London, UK
2005 “The Affordable Art Fair,” SOHO Galleries, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia
2005 “Vernissage,” Sculpturesite, San Francisco, CA
2004 “From Another Dimension – Works on Paper by Sculptors,” Department of Prints and Drawings, New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, New Orleans, LA
2004 “American and International Permanent Collection Exhibition,” New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, New Orleans, LA
2004 Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney, Australia
2004 EMAAR, Burgh Dubai, U.A.E.
2016 "The Crackers," large-scale stainless steel public artwork and seating designs, Corby Borough Council, Corby, UK
2016 "Sacred Light" (working title), design proposals for landmark sculpture, Suzhou Sports Centre, Suzhou, China
2015 "The Silk Road," large-scale stainless steel sculpture, International Sculpture Exhibition, Fuzhou, China
2014 "Access to Justice," development phase, McMurty Gardens of Justice, Toronto, Canada
2014 "Wheels of Time," Unlocking Stourport's Heritage, Stourport, UK
2014 Planning Suzhou: Expert Panel member, Suzhou, China (Panel included Laurent Le Bon and Didier Schulman of Pompidou Centre Paris and Jay A. Levenson of MoMA NYC)
2014 "Flight & Fantasy," wall-based public artwork, Goosecroft Road, Glasgow, Scotland
2013 "Searchlight Beacons," London Southend Airport, London, UK
2013 "Powerhouse," site-specific wall-based artwork, Covent Garden, London, UK
2011 “The Road Not Taken,” Ordos City Sculpture Park, Ordos City, China
2011 “Arcs,” 12th Changchun International Symposium, Changchun, China
2011 “The Tumblers,” MTLE, Wuxi, China
2006-2010 “Breaking Boundaries,” Lead Artist, urban regeneration project, Kent County Council, Ashford, UK
2010 "The Clothier," public art commission, Friends of the New Walk, Leicester, UK
2009 “Notaroundabout,” Lead Artist, Cor-ten and stainless steel roundabout feature, Plaza and Highway System, Kent County Council
2008 “Hard Bop,” stainless steel and granite, commissioned by Sculpturesite on behalf of LARAMAR, Fillmore Plaza, San Francisco, CA
2008 “Strange Meeting,” marble and granite, Beijing Municipal Council for Olympic Park, Beijing, China
2008 Public Art for Beijing Olympics – City Sculpture Proposals, sculpture competition and exhibition, Beijing, China
2008 “Pluto,” Cor-ten and stainless steel, Phoenix Parkway, Corby, UK
2008 Lead Artist, Member Champions Group shared-space highway scheme, Kent County Council, Ashford, UK
2007 “The Clicker,” bronze, The Friends of the New Walk
2007 “By Hook or by Crook,” Cor-ten steel and stainless steel, concrete, oak and slate; commissioned by Tesco Ireland; Johnstown Museum; Wexford, Ireland
2007 “Plumb Bob,” bronze and stainless steel, Land Registry Building, Bedford Park, Croydon, UK
2007 Olympic Landscape Sculpture Designs Contest Exhibition, Beijing Urban Planning Exhibition Centre, Beijing, China
2005 “NZ323135,” Cor-ten and stainless steel, commissioned by Arts Council North on behalf of City and Northern, Morton Palms Business Park, Teeside, UK
2005 “Bowes Moor,” Systems Engineering Innovation Centre, Loughborough, UK
2004 “Del Fabrro’s Chariot,” Cor-ten and stainless steel, Beetham Towers, Liverpool, UK
Selected Honors and Awards
2015 Excellent Award, Public Art version: "The Silk Road," Fuzhou, China
2013 Major Award, Qu Art, Suzhou Cultural & Creative Design Industry Fair, Suzhou, China
2012 EPSRC Bridging the Gaps, Arts & Sciences Award, Loughborough University
2011 Honorary Fellowship, National Academy of Sculpture, Beijing, China
2011 Nanjing Youth Olympic Game Sculpture Planning Committee, Nanjing, China
2011 Winner, The RTPI Planning Awards: – “Ringing the Changes,” Town Regeneration, Ashford Ring Road Project, Kent County Council, Ashford, UK
2011 Elected Member – The Academy of Urbanism
2011 Trustee and Committee Member – Royal Society of British Sculptors, London
2010 Marshalls Award for Public Realm: "Breaking Boundaries," Ashford, UK
2010 Local Landscape Planning Award, Landscape Institute Awards
2010 Winner, Best Public Realm Category, Sustain Magazine Awards
2009 Trustee and Committee Member – Royal Society of British Sculptors
2009 Marshalls Award for Public Realm, Ashford, UK
2009 Highly Commended, Local Landscape Planning Award, Landscape Institute Awards
2009 Winner, Best Public Realm Category, Sustain Magazine Awards
2009 Highly Commended, Urban Design Category, The IHT Awards
2009 Highly Commended, The Rouse Kent Public Art Award
2009 Winner, Local Authority Regeneration Team of the Year; Highly Commended, Award for the Best Designed Regeneration Development; The Regeneration and Renewal Awards
2009 The RTPI Planning Awards, short-listed for National and Regional Awards
2009 Winner, Innovation Category, The ICE 2009 Engineering Awards (The Brassey Award)
2009 The British Construction Industry Awards, short-listed for “Better Building Award”
2009 Winner, Street Design Category, The LGN Street Design Awards
2009 Ashford Borough Council Building Design Awards, short-listed for “Public Realm”
2009 Winner, “Worshipful Company of Paviours”
2008 Honor Certificate, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture
2008 Outstanding Award, Chinese Sculpture Institute
2008 Sculpturesite Award, Public Art and the Public Realm, San Francisco, CA
2007 Landscape Institute Award, Urban Design and Street Furniture, London, UK
2007 Outstanding Award, The Organizing Committee of 2008 Olympic Landscape Sculpture Designs Contest, Beijing, China
2007 Rootstein Hopkins Sabbatical Leave Award, Elected Fellow, Royal British Society of Sculptors 2007-2008 (Peer Assessment)
2006 Study Leave Award, Loughborough University
2010 “John Atkin.” Sculpture Journal. ISSN: Pages 50-54.
2008 “Gathering Dreams 100.” Beijing Olympic Sculptures Collection. Culture & Art Publishing House, China, ISBN.
2008 “Gathering Dreams 100.” Beijing Olympic Sculptures Documentary. Culture & Art Publishing House, China, ISBN978-7-5039-3608-1/J.979.
2008 Art & Architecture Journal. Number 66/67, Autumn 2008. ISSN 1360-3256: Page 85.
2008 Cordrey, Carol. “First Out of the Blocks.” Artists & Illustrator Journal, Issue 265: Page 11-12.
2008 Yilang, Zhu. “The Sculpture Olympics 2008.” Sculpture, Vol. 27, No. 9, ISSN: 74851 64837: Pages 54-55.
2008 “Hard Bop.” 7x7 Magazine: Page 135.
2008 “Hard Bop.” Interview with Don Sanchez. ABC 7, San Francisco, CA.
2008 “Hard Bop.” San Francisco Chronicle review.
2008 “Hard Bop.” Fillmore Center Plaza. ISBN 1-900856-76X.
2007 “City Sculpture Proposals.” Public Art for Beijing Olympics. ISBN 7-5074-1794-8: Page 89 (“The Competitor”) and page 134 (“Strange Meeting”).
2007 “Commissions & Projects: Pound Mill and Staines.” Art & Architecture Journal. Page 57.
The Navigator, ISBN 0-906688-40-X
Scorched Earth, ISBN 1-900856-41-7
Distant Voices, ISBN 1-900856-30-1
Cut, The Made and the Unmade, ISBN 0-9704605-0-3
Cut, ISBN 1-901560-65-1
Selected Professional Conferences
2012 "Intrigue, Uncertainty and Humour: Why Work in an Integrated Design Team?" Breaking Boundaries Seminar, Loughborough University, UK
2011 The 3rd China Changchun World Sculpture Conference, China
2011 “Blue Symphony,” NanDaiHe International Sculpture Conference, China
2011 “Technologies of Drawing,” Sculpture Network, University of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK
2010 “The 16th China Sculpture Forum,” DIAOSU – National Sculpture Magazine of China, China
2009 “Understanding the Post-Industrial City: Metropolis,” Urban Renewal and Public Space, Bauhaus-Universitat Weimar and the Technical University Lisbon, Portugal
2005 “The Great Artistic Metropolis,” Oxford House, London, UK
2005 “Sculpture and Design,” Symposium, Faculty of Arts and Architecture, Henry Moore Foundation - University of Brighton
Education and Academic History
2010-2012 Committee Member, Royal British Society of Sculptors, London, UK
2006-2012 Reader in Fine Art, School of the Arts, Loughborough University, UK
2011 Honorary Fellow, Academy of Sculpture, Beijing, China
2010 Elected Member, Academy of Urbanism, London, UK
2009 Elected Fellow, Royal British Society of Sculptors, London, UK
2008-2009 Rootstein Hopkins Sabbatical Award, Drawing, UK
2006-2007 Director of Research, School of the Arts, Loughborough University, UK
2000-2006 Programme Leader in Sculpture, Loughborough University, UK
1997-2000 Tutor, Royal College of Art, London, UK
1988-1989 Australia Council & British Council Major Award, Victoria College, Melbourne, Australia. Lecture Tour to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, Australia.
1987 Grizedale Society Fellowship, Cumbria, UK
1985-1986 Picker Fellowship in Sculpture, Kingston University, London, UK
1982-1985 Royal College of Art, London, MA in Sculpture. Recipient of Henry Moore Scholarship.