William Kenneth Armitage
Article by: Jon Topper - First Published: 06 February 2011
The 'Both Arms' statue is a 16' high bronze sculpture which stands prominently in the Mandela Garden of Millennium Square, Leeds (previously - Civic Square). The controversial flagship project of Millennium Square was constructed at a cost of £12 million and is home to several pieces of public art.
Kenneth Armitage was born in Leeds 18 July 1916, he has become renown as a sculptor better known for his semiabstract bronzes.
Armitage was considered to be part of the great renaissance of British sculpture during the early post-war years. Becoming internationally recognised by museums and fine art collectors.
Armitage himself wrote, "My sculpture contains ideas or experiences other than those that derive directly from observation of the human image, nevertheless it is always dressed in some degree in human form."
Armitage studied at the Leeds College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art.
In 1939 he joined the Army where he served until 1946, Armitage then became head of the sculpture department at the Bath Academy of Art a position he held for about 10 years.
Revered as he is, in 1953 he appointed Britain's first university artist in residence, at the University of Leeds until 1956.
In 1958, he won a best international sculpture award at the Venice Biennale.
Armitage was made CBE in 1969.
Elected to the The Royal Academy of Arts, London in 1994.
Both Arms is one of the final works by Armitage to be added to those which are free to see in public locations. He died only two years after the opening of the Mandela Garden on 22 January 2002.
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