ASPIRE – a new sculpture for South London

Take part in the launch of an important new piece of public art in a restored landmark building. ASPIRE – launch of the new sculpture by Randy Klein will take place at the Employment Academy, on Thursday, 21 March 2013 from 4 – 7.30pm.

ASPIRE_eA new sculpture has been created by Randy Klein for the courtyard of the building housing the Thames Reach Employment Academy. The sculpture is called ASPIRE, and is based around an Edwardian spiral staircase, an original feature of the building. The sculpture launch will also be a chance to visit this beautifully restored landmark building.

The 18 foot, one tonne sculpture is intended as a focal point and an object of inspiration for the people who use the academy’s services. The sculpture shows figures holding the tools they would use in the workplace ascending the spiral staircase, and represents people climbing towards success, a key aim of the Employment Academy.

A group of 14 people who currently use the services of Thames Reach were given the opportunity to work with the artist to help create the sculpture, and attended training workshops at the company London Engineering. It took over three years to develop the sculpture. Several initial ideas were considered, but when it became clear that planning consent for the renovation of the building required retaining an original spiral staircase, this proved an inspiration for the final design.

FlowerMan_eKlein says, ‘”As part of the planning consent to develop the listed building, one condition was that the original cast iron Edwardian spiral staircase would have to be part of the new development. I realised that this spiral staircase could be transformed into a symbol of people rising up out of unemployment, and improving their lives through work. In the studio I created a small model of this staircase, and began altering it with new elements. In the end I settled on a series of figures climbing up the staircase, each holding a symbol of work. One holds a large tube referring to building trades, another steps on the stairs holding a giant flower, symbolising horticulture, and the figure at the apex holds a large gear, which brings to mind engineering.”

The sculpture was fabricated in the workshop to its full height and then had to be disassembled and brought to site in sections. There it was assembled in its permanent home, the courtyard of the Academy. Funding for the project came from the Peter Minet Trust and Oak Foundation. Klein has said about ASPIRE, “The sculpture breathes life into this wonderful 100 year old staircase and it is symbolic of people improving themselves and taking the steps up towards a better life.”

Randy Welding

Randy Welding

Bill Tidnam, Thames Reach director, said: “Randy’s involvement of service users in the construction of this sculpture reflects our approach which is to help people see their strengths and develop them.” This has been a busy year for Klein’s sculpture exhibition, Moment to Moment, is currently completing its tour of public spaces in Italy, and will begin its UK tour in May, beginning in Edinburgh at St. Giles Cathedral, then travelling to Ely Cathedral, Rochester Cathedral, and Chichester Cathedral.


The Employment Academy is an initiative of Thames Reach, a homelessness charity, helping unemployed people take steps to improve their lives through work. Klein previously worked with Thames Reach, creating an award winning film funded by the Arts Council. The film, ‘Home Truths’, was shown at the Dulwich Picture Gallery and can be viewed here:

For your diary:

ASPIRE will be launched at its home the Employment Academy on Thursday, 21 March 2013 from 4 – 7:30pm.

Employment Academy
29 Peckham Road
London SE5

There will also be an accompanying exhibition of models and sketches of the sculpture as well as related works. Admission is free and open to all. In addition to an opportunity to see this exciting sculpture, it will be a chance for the public to see this beautifully restored historic building.

There will be a free artist talk on Wednesday, 13 March at 1pm.

Film about the making of the ASPIRE sculpture

For further information, please visit Klein’s website or contact – Mike Nicholas at Thames Reach, 0781 611 3420 or 0203 664 9562 or contact the artist directly 07905052094 or

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