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Artists taking the lead: East Midlands

  • Date: 16 May 2011
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: Midlands
Lady standing in front of giant crocheted lion Shauna Richardson - Lionheart Project with first crocheted lion

Shauna Richardson, Lionheart Project

Lionheart Project will feature three giant hand-crocheted lions in a custom-built, mobile, glass case. These powerful, realistic sculptures reflect the East Midlands in both symbol and materials; they will recreate Richard the Lionheart's three lions crest using locally sourced Swaledale wool, celebrating the region's rich textile heritage.

The project is part of Artists taking the lead, a series of 12 public art commissions across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Arts Council England is delivering the project in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales.

The lion structures are sculpted out of polystyrene and set around steel skeletons. Over the course of two years, Shauna is using a 'one colour one stitch' freestyle technique to crochet the three lion skins tracing muscular contours as she goes. 

Two lions have now been completed, and Shauna is currently working on the third. Visit the Lionheart Project website to see a sneak preview of the lions and to view a short film of Shauna Richardson at work. You can also follow The Lionheart Project blog for regular updates.
In the spring of 2012, the three crocheted lions will travel around the East Midlands in a custom-built glass exhibition vehicle before moving on to London.  Dates and locations will be announced soon.

About the artist

Shauna lives in Stoughton, Leicestershire. She describes herself as a 'crochetdermist' who was originally taught to crochet while at junior school. After leaving secondary school she became a painter specialising in architectural themes. 

While studying fine art at De Montfort University, Leicester, Shauna's practice was conceptual and questioning art drove her work: 'I came to believe that maybe anything could be art - maybe a gesture, or an empty space. I now use realism and traditional craft to explore this theory. The Artists taking the lead brief was extraordinary. Here was a truly exciting opportunity to think big and create something spectacular that would celebrate the individual culture of our region and put us squarely on the map.'

The panel

All of the winning Artists taking the lead projects were chosen by a panel of artists and producers. The East Midlands panel commented:

'Lionheart' offers a unique artistic idea on an unrivalled scale.  The local materials, the art form, and the Olympian commitment of the artist to produce an extraordinary work caught our imagination.  This will be tactile yet awe-inspiring.  The sculpture will celebrate the East Midlands' cultural, industrial, and historical heritage while inspiring thought about our relationship with our nation, with other nations and cultures, and with the values implicit in Olympian activity.'

Read the Artists taking the lead, East Midlands panel biographies.

Visit the Artists taking the lead page to find out about the other projects taking place across the UK.