"It is important for the Crick that researcher collaborate with colleagues in other disciplines. New advances often occur when we are able to look at things from a difference perspective. Conrad's stimulating design for Paradigm draws on both artistic and scientific inspiration, and is an interesting piece of engineering. The Crick is proud to contribute to the cultural landscape of London through this impressive public sculpture, which echoes the industrial heritage of King's Cross and encapsulates the ethos of the Crick with its boldness and ambition." - Sir Paul Nurse, Director, Francis Crick Institute
"Paradigm playfully toys with an idea at the very heart of the scientific process; but it also demonstrates just how much public art can add to a city, interacting in intriguing ways with both King's Cross built environment and its history." - Ken Arnold, Creative Director, the Wellcome Trust
Commissioned by the Francis Crick Institute, funded by the Wellcome Trust and curated by Artwise, Paradigm, by artist Conrad Shawcross, is one of the tallest public sculptures in central London. Conrad Shawcross' concept for Paradigm was chosen after a long and rigorous selection process from a considered shortlist of eminent international artists.
Thomas Kuhn's theory of the 'paradigm shift' provided the starting point for Shawcross' work for the The Crick. Kuhn, an American philosopher of science, believed that scientific advancement does not progress in a seamless linear fashion, but rather through massive shifts that lead to breakthroughs, which change the course of thought, comprehension and application. Paradigm provides a metaphor for potential and reflects the ambitions of the biomedical research institute: to grow; to advance; to discover.
Recognised as one of the most innovative sculptors in the UK today, Shawcross' sculpture towers at an impressive 14 metres high and made up of 17 tessellated tetrahedra, the massive 27 tonne sculpture elegantly balances on the smallest tetrahedron of just 80cm across. Paradigm's majestic form defies gravity, embodies boldness and courage whilst its materiality (COR-TEN weathering steel) gives a respectful nod to the industrial heritage of King's Cross.
The public sculpture was officially launched by The Crick Institute and the Wellcome Trust in June 2019 and for the occasion Artwise invited Claire Lilley to conduct a conversation with the artist in the newly inaugurated Crick Lecture theatre. For the occasion we also mounted an exhibition of small sculptural works by Conrad that had been developed from the Paradigm concept.
Artist: Conrad Shawcross RA
Commissioned by the Francis Crick Institute (visit project website here)
Funded by the Wellcome Trust
Fabricated by Benson-Sedgewick
Engineered by Structure Workshop
Curated by Artwise