Alan Collins (sculptor)

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Alan Collins
Guildford Cathedral Weather Vane - - 1398116.jpg
Gilded Angel, Guildford Cathedral weather vane
Born(1928-08-15)15 August 1928
Beddington, Surrey, England
Died18 October 2016(2016-10-18) (aged 88)
EducationWimbledon School of Art, Royal College of Art
Spouse(s)Jeanne Fuegi; Aliki Snow
AwardsSir Otto Beit Medal
ElectedFellow of Royal Academy
WebsiteAlan Collins' website

Alan Collins (15 August 1928 – 18 October 2016) was an English-born sculptor noted for his work at Guildford Cathedral. After continuing his career in England, Collins moved to the United States and continued working there as an artist and, for more than 20 years, as a professor of art at Seventh-day Adventist universities.[1]

Collins work primarily focused on evocative Biblical stories told in outdoor sculptures, which has been described as "24-hour, 365-days-a-year silent sermons."[2]

Early life[edit]

Collins was born in the village of Beddington, in northeast Surrey, England.[1] At the age of 16, after attending public schools, Collins entered Wimbledon School of Art. While there he earned first prize in an England-wide competition.[1] Having won a scholarship for the Royal College of Art, he studied sculpture.[2][3]

Collins developed a lifelong connection to the Adventist Church after having attended a meeting by Australian evangelist Thomas J. Bradley in Corydon, England.[3] At a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Holloway, London, Collins met his wife Jeanne Fuegi, and they were married in 1954.[4]


When Collins first began carving in stone he used limestone from Malta, which was in great supply during and after World War II as it had been used by supply ships as ballast when returning to England without cargo.[2]

His sculptures were exhibited at the Royal Society for the Arts and the Royal Academy,[5] one of which was Head of a King, in Maltese stone, exhibited in 1946 at Exhibition 20 by the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society when he was a student at Wimbledon College of Art.[6]

In 1964 Collins was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors[2][3] and received the Society's Sir Otto Beit Medal for his stone carving of St. Martha of Bethany at Guildford Cathedral.[4]

In 1968 he moved to the United States and began career of over 20 years, teaching at Seventh-day Adventists universities, including Atlantic Union College (1968–1971) in Massachusetts, Andrews University (1971–1978) in Michigan and La Sierra University (1978–1989) in California. As a result of his years of work teaching at Adventist universities, he developed a "signature style" that is attributed to Adventist college works.[2][3]

After retiring from teaching, Collins worked in Phoenix, Oregon on his own works made in many mediums: bronze, wood, clay, wood, concrete and stone. He created many works for the Adventist Church, and also conducted lectures and showed his work at Adventist colleges.[2]

He moved back to England in 2013, and lived in Bridport, Dorset until his death.[citation needed]


Aside from Collins' work at Guildford Cathedral,[7] he executed other works in England before moving to the United States. Most notably, he designed and carved the John F. Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede.[4] In the United States he created sculptures largely for religious organisations, commissions from hospitals and private individuals.[3] He never used models for his sculptures, they were all created using his own imagination. He was noted for being very knowledgeable of human anatomy and he always taught human anatomy to his sculpture students. This information came from his second wife Aliki Collins.[citation needed]

Guildford Cathedral[edit]

Collins' most extensive work was created for the exterior of Guildford Cathedral,[8] including:

  • The Hand of God, visible at the approach to the cathedral. Surrounded by the moon, stars and the sun, the offered hand represents an "invitation from God to be a part of the Christian Community".[8]
  • a statue of Archangel Gabriel, at the eastern end of the Lady Chapel.[7]
  • statues of St Catherine and St Martha on the buttresses of the Lady Chapel.[7]
  • atop the cathedral's tower, Gilded Angel, made of copper and gilded with gold leaf; although the 4.5-metre (15 foot) tall sculpture, constructed by Hurst, Franklin & Co of Islington, weighs about one ton, it is mounted on ball bearings allowing it to turn with shifting wind directions.[8] Collins created the scale model of the angel in gold on the top of the tower[9] and the font.[10]
  • nine statues of Christian virtues and Gifts of the Spirit: Charity, Courage, Temperance, Prudence, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude and Knowledge.[8][11]

Biblical scenes[edit]

  • La Sierra University – In 2002 Collins created the outdoor sculpture entitled The Glory of God's Grace[1] which depicts the story of the prodigal son. Considering it one of his best pieces, Collins said that it was: “The chance to show the nature of God through a piece.”[3]
  • Loma Linda University – The 7'3" bronze sculpture Good Samaritan on the campus mall [2] was unveiled in 1981 [3]. The work adapts the story from Luke's Gospel in a contemporary interpretation. It symbolises the guiding principle "to make man whole" and is congruent with the university's motto. In addition, a sandblast glass relief based on the original bronze sculpture resides in the foyer of the Center for Dentistry and Orthodontics. It was unveiled during the School of Dentistry's annual Alumni-Student Convention on 10 February 2012.[12][13][14] Collins also completed the life-size sculpture Who Touched Me? in 2010, depicting the Gospel story of a sick women touching Christ's in faith.[12]
  • Oakwood University – In 2005 Collins completed the sculpture Sacrificial Service, which represents Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross for Jesus' crucification, for Oakwood University which is located in Huntsville, Alabama.[2][3]
  • Andrews University – Collins created a sculpture to depict the John Nevins Andrews family, the first Adventist missionaries who would establish the first Adventist Church in Switzerland. Symbolizing service, Legacy of Leadership depicts the Andrews family leaving for Europe in 1874 and is located near the Pioneer Memorial Church.[15] The 1975 sculpture Regeneration also stands in front of the campus Science complex.[14]
  • Walla Walla University – Collins was commissioned by the class of 1950 to create a bronze commemorating their 50th anniversary. His work, Jesus Among Us, is a bronze statue that depicts foot-washing of disciples feet by Jesus.[16] "Jesus Among Us" was created to bring to life the university's "Generosity of Service" mission statement, which says that "Walla Walla University (WWU) is a community of faith dedicated to excellence in thought, generosity in service, beauty in expression and faith in God."[17]
  • Canadian University College – The centrepiece of the Administration Building lobby is Collins' newest piece, entitled The Sower. An Alberta representation of Jesus' Parable of the Sower. It was officially unveiled during Alumni Weekend Celebrations on Friday, 7 June 2013.[18][19]

Contemporary religious art[edit]

  • The First Advent depicts It Came Upon a Midnight Clear at the South Lancaster, Massachusetts Atlantic Union College.[2]
  • Three Angels of the Apocalypse in St Albans, England, the "first public sculpture commissioned by the Adventist Church".[2]
  • Three Angels of the Apocalypse, a different version of the same theme as the St. Albans work, is located in Lincoln, Nebraska on the Union College administrative building.[2]
  • The Flame, "that Fire which leads", is located within the sermon hall of the Bay Knoll Adventist Church in Rochester, New York.[2] Of this work, Collins wrote:

Fire is perhaps the most memorable visual form by which God has made His presence known to men. The burning bush, the guiding pillar of fire, the all-consuming fire on Mount Carmel, the tongues of fire at Pentecost and the eventual purification of the world by fire are pictures that come quite readily to mind. Being symbolic, my representation of fire became formalized, differing from the fluctuating form of fire itself. An artist may frequently attempt to make a visual analogy between differing visual forms, creating a bridge that will unite seemingly disparate qualities to form a new reality. In bringing together the two-halves of my design I trapped a space that outlines the form of a wheat ear, the wheat that God will harvest when the chaff has all been burned. At the center of the design is a calm, stable form in clear plexiglass which I think of as the quiet flame of God's presence – the still small voice at the heart of every fiery experience.[20]

Other works[edit]

The following is a partial list of Collins' other works.


Inscription on Runnymede Memorial for Kennedy Memorial Trust
  • Head of a King that Collins exhibited in 1946 at Exhibition 20 by the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society when he was a student at Wimbledon College of Art.[6]
  • Inscription on Runnymede Memorial for Kennedy Memorial Trust[3][5]
  • Minerva is an abstract sculpture made of aluminium. It is situated on a concrete plinth between Minerva House and Southwark Cathedral in London.[21]
  • Chessboard, picking up the theme of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers "chess knight" logo, was made from Portland Stone by Collins in 1963 for the publishers offices at St Paul's House, Warwick Lane, London, England. Collins was commissioned the work through Victor Heal and Partners.[22]
  • At the St. Clement Dane Church, the City of London is a memorial to an 18th-century couple, Francis and Catherine Sirr. Replacing the original destroyed during World War II, it is located in the crypt and made of Portland stone.[23]
  • Seven portrait masks on keystones above the nave arcades in St. Mary-Le-Bow church, the City of London.[5][24]
  • Stone figure of the patron saint of sailors above the entrance to St. Nicholas' Church in Saltdean, Sussex.[25]
  • Replacement of the Royal Coat-of-Arms of King Charles above the portico of All Saints' Church in Northampton.[26]
  • Sculptures at Bradford Cathedral, Yorkshire.[5][27]
  • A work above the Grays Inn Law School doorway in London that depicts a lion, griffon and eagle in limestone.[2][5]

United States[edit]

  • At a library Jacksonville County, Oregon, Collins inscribed the building with Roman-style lettering.[3]

Awards and exhibitions[edit]

Sculpture of a soldier outside Southwark Cathedral.

Personal life[edit]

After beginning his career in England, Collins moved to the United States in 1968 with his wife Jeanne and their daughter and son. They first lived in South Lancaster, Massachusetts. They moved to Michigan in 1971, where Collins taught at Andrews University (a Seventh-day Adventist university in Berrien Springs.) In 1978 Collins and his family moved to California where Collins taught for 11 years at La Sierra University (another Seventh-day Adventist university that was located in Riverside.)[2]

Collins' wife Jeanne Fuegi suffered a long battle with cancer and died in 1992. In 1993, Collins married his second wife Aliki[2][3] After his retirement from sculpting, he moved to Bridport, Dorset, England.


  1. ^ a b c "Alan Collins, Sculptor of 'Silent Sermons,' Dies at 88". Adventist Review. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Dower, Richard (April 2005). "A Sculptor's Journey". Gleaner. Ridgefield WA: North Pacific Union Conference. Archived from the original on 10 December 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Oliver, Ansel. (13 April 2004 ). World Church: Sculptor, an Adventist, Celebrates God's Creations Adventist News Network. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Masters, Christopher (9 November 2016). "Alan Collins obituary". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 7 July 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e Appendix section about Alan Collins.[permanent dead link] City of London, Planning. p. 1. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b Head of a King. Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851–1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, Guildford. British Listed Buildings. English Heritage Building ID 289097. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, Guildford: Sculptors and Designers" (PDF). Guildford Cathedral. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 September 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  9. ^ Guildford Cathedral, the Golden Angel on the tower. Surrey History Centre archives. Reference Number: PC 00072 ALB00300152. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  10. ^ About Guildford Cathedral. Pictures of Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  11. ^ Mullions, Guildford Cathedral. Courtauld Institute of Art: Art and Architecture. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  12. ^ a b Ponder, James. (27 October 2010). "'Who Touched Me?' sculpture unveiled at Loma Linda University." Loma Linda University: Today. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  13. ^ Terwillegar, Rachel. 19 April 2012. Good Samaritan sandblast sculpture unveiled. Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  14. ^ a b c J. N. Andrews Sculpture Points Students to Mission. Archived 22 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine St. Andrews University: Pioneer Memorial Church. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  15. ^ Adventist Pioneer Honored: J. N. Andrews Sculpture Unveiling Adventist News Network Retrieved October 17, 2018
  16. ^ Jesus Among Us – Celebrating Generosity in Service Archived 15 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine Walla Walla University. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  17. ^ Jorgenson, Jennifer. Jesus Among Us. Archived 6 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine Walla Walla University. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  18. ^ Personal communications, CUC Advancement, 30 May 2013
  19. ^ Joy Fehr, Alumni Weekend Dedication, 7 June 2013
  20. ^ The Flame. Archived 19 July 2011 at Bay Knoll Seventh-day Adventist Church. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  21. ^ Cavanagh, Terry. (December 2009). Minerva. Source is: Public Sculpture of South London; 2007, p219. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  22. ^ Chessboard. Courtauld Institute of Art: Art and Architecture. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  23. ^ Heraldry and Lettering: Memorial to an 18th Century Couple. Alan Collins Gallery.
  24. ^ Meilach, Dona Z. (1970). Contemporary stone sculpture:aesthetics, methods, appreciation. Crown Publishers. p. 120.
  25. ^ St. Nicholas' Church. Archived 25 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  26. ^ Churches: All Saints' Church Collinsculptor. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  27. ^ Bradford Cathedral. Visit Bradford. Retrieved 17 August 2012.

External links[edit]