Covid and Brexit issues delay monumental sculpture arriving at Frieze

Shortage of materials and transport problems mean Daniel Arsham's public work has only just arrived in London

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A raft of problems delayed the arrival of Daniel Arsham’s large-scale sculpture Unearthed Bronze Eroded Melpomene (2021) at this year’s Frieze Sculpture outdoor display Photo: Linda Nylind

A raft of problems delayed the arrival of Daniel Arsham’s large-scale sculpture Unearthed Bronze Eroded Melpomene (2021) at this year’s Frieze Sculpture outdoor display Photo: Linda Nylind

A Covid-induced shortage of materials, coupled with transport delays due to Brexit, meant a major sculpture by the US artist Daniel Arsham was held up on its way to Frieze Sculpture, the fair’s annual public art display (until 31 October). The monumental piece, Unearthed Bronze Eroded Melpomene (2021), depicting a classical bust, was finally installed in Regent’s Park near the fair entrance on Thursday—four weeks after the display opened. The work is based on a Roman muse housed at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

“Covid led to shipping delays, we had major boat shipment issues. All things considered, we did our best to install the work on time for the opening of the fair,” says a spokeswoman for Galerie Perrotin, which represents Arsham. The work was fabricated in China and “seems to have been delayed at every point on the way”, says Clare Lilley, the curator of Frieze Sculpture. “It’s complex, but Covid plays a part in terms of reduced workforce and disrupted [supply] chains, and as we know, Brexit is also having a significant impact on workforce and paperwork.”

Another new sculpture by Arsham, Eroded Summer, was unveiled this week in west London, at The Whiteley redevelopment. The work is based on an historic bronze by the French sculptor Paul Jean-Baptiste Gasq that hung on the facade of the former Whiteleys shopping centre. This piece, however, arrived on time.

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