Mark Renn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mark Renn
BornMay 1952 Edit this on Wikidata
Died2019 Edit this on Wikidata (aged 66–67)
OccupationSculptor, artist Edit this on Wikidata

Mark Dennis Tate Renn (1952–2019) was a British sculptor who created several works of public art, mainly in the English Midlands.

Renn was born in 1952 and trained in Birmingham.[1]

Although primarily known for his sculpture, his first commission, in 1978, was a series of three murals on the gable ends of terraced houses at the eastern end of Heathfield Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, in conjunction with Paula Woof and Steve Field.[2] These murals lasted around 27 years before being overpainted by new murals. In 1982, he painted an internal mural at Frankley Community School, together with Woof and Field.[3] The trio worked as "The Mural Company"[2] and were profiled in a 1982 Central Television documentary, "Round About".[2] In June–July 1984, Field and Renn exhibited on murals, jointly, at Bilston Museum and Art Gallery.[4]

He also spent the early part of his career working on live art events and temporary installations. He was a member of the art groups "BAG" (1974–1977 with Paula Woof and Ian Everard[5]), "Meet the Future" and "Fine Rats International" (1989–1993); he described the latter as "an edgy group of four egomaniac visual artists".[6] His The Fall involved fully-glazed greenhouses being dropped from cranes, underneath Gravelly Hill Interchange ("Spaghetti Junction"), with the timing decided by games of bingo.[7]

Renn, Woof, Field, David Patten and Derek Jones worked jointly as the West Midlands Public Art Collective, which was active circa 1987.[8]

there separate columns, each arched at the top
an apparent dome
Viewed from a certain angle the curves of the three separate columns of The Darwin Gate appear to form a dome, based on a Saxon helmet. It was inspired by St Mary's Church in Shrewsbury and commemorates Charles Darwin.

Several of sculptural his works play with parallax, appearing abstract until viewed from a specific angle. One such sculpture is The Darwin Gate in Shrewsbury, which from a certain angle appears to form a dome, according to Historic England, in "the form of a Saxon helmet with a Norman window... inspired by features of St Mary's Church which was attended by Charles Darwin as a boy".[9] Other examples include Pegasus (1999) at Cork Airport, Ireland,[10] Green Man Walking (2003) at Sanders Park, Bromsgrove, and The Selby Medal (2012) at Selby War Memorial Hospital, Yorkshire.[11]

His other public works include Clink at Stourbridge Junction railway station, Shoal (2008), on the Castle Grange Business Park, Nottinghamshire,[12] Blue Beacon (2009) at the South Wales Police headquarters in Bute Town, Cardiff, Clockwork, outside Jewellery Quarter station, Birmingham, Moontrap at Smethwick Galton Bridge interchange, and "Lost Property Sun" (2010) at Birmingham Snow Hill station.[10]

He collaborated with Mick Thacker on several sculptures, as well as the "Charm Bracelet Pavement Trail", a series of sixteen pavement plaques depicting the local history of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.[13][14] The duo also oversaw artworks added during the 1997 restoration of Jubilee House, High Street, Madeley, as well as contributing a weather vane and a sculpture.[15]

Plans for a Renn-Thacker collaborative sculpture at the junction of the A41 road and the M53 motorway in The Wirral had to be abandoned after the Highways Agency determined that it could cause distraction to drivers and attract pedestrians onto the roadway.[16] The design had earlier caused controversy due to an inadvertent similarity to To The Skellig, a sculpture in Cahersiveen, County Kerry, Ireland.[17]

Renn worked from a studio in Lee Bank, Birmingham and after that was closed following local government funding cuts,[18] from a studio at his home in Cookley, Worcestershire.[10]

As a side-line, he operated a business, "Big Pan Man", renting out commercial catering equipment.[19]

He died in late 2019,[14] and was survived by his wife, Anna.[19]


Picture Work Location Date Type Material Dimensions Designation Coordinates
(With links to map and aerial photo sources)
Owner Notes
Handsworth Triptych Heathfield Road, Handsworth, Birmingham 1978 (1978) Mural Emulsion paint 52°30′29″N 1°54′18″W / 52.508019°N 1.905020°W / 52.508019; -1.905020 Set of three murals, depicting African wildlife. Since overpainted.

City of a Thousand Trades Bell Street Passage, Birmingham 1987 (1987) Relief
  • fibreglass
  • Pre-existing ceramic tiles, etched by sandblasting
Made by the West Midlands Public Art Collective; commissioned by the then West Midlands County Council; lost[8]

More images
The Darwin Gate Shrewsbury 2004 (2004) Sculpture
  • Cast glass
  • copper
  • bronze
  • stainless steel
  • stone
Depends on parallax.[9]

Pegasus Cork Airport, Ireland 1999 (1999) Sculpture Depends on parallax

The Selby Medal Selby War Memorial hospital, Yorkshire 2012 (2012) Sculpture Depends on parallax[11] Illuminated at night.

More images
Lost Property Sun Birmingham Snow Hill 2010 (2010) Sculpture 52°29′05″N 1°54′05″W / 52.4848178°N 1.9013591°W / 52.4848178; -1.9013591 Transport for West Midlands Depicts umbrellas; located indoors, on mezzanine level.

More images
Whistle Blizzard Birmingham Snow Hill 2010 (2010) Sculpture 52°29′05″N 1°54′05″W / 52.4848178°N 1.9013591°W / 52.4848178; -1.9013591 Transport for West Midlands Depicts whistles; located indoors, on mezzanine level.

More images
Charm Bracelet Pavement Trail Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham Sculpture Bronze series of sixteen pavement plaques, depicting aspects of local history

Clink Stourbridge Junction station Sculpture

Shoal Castle Grange business park, Nottinghamshire 2008 (2008) Sculpture [12]

Blue Beacon South Wales Police headquarters, Bute Town, Cardiff 2009 (2009) Sculpture 51°27′51″N 3°10′09″W / 51.464264°N 3.169267°W / 51.464264; -3.169267 South Wales Police

More images
Clockwork outside Jewellery Quarter station, Birmingham 2004 (2004) Sculpture 52°29′22″N 1°54′46″W / 52.4893721°N 1.9127845°W / 52.4893721; -1.9127845 Transport for West Midlands Depicts the workings of a pocket watch.

More images
Moontrap Smethwick Galton Bridge interchange 2003 (2003) Sculpture Steel 52°30′06″N 1°58′50″W / 52.5017024°N 1.9805592°W / 52.5017024; -1.9805592

The Copernican Gate Stratford-upon-Avon 2006 (2006) Sculpture Stratford upon Avon District Council refers to Copernicus

Night Swimmer Wolverhampton Swimming & Fitness Centre, Planetary Road, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton 2004 (2004) Sculpture
  • Stainless steel
  • LED lighting
52°35′38″N 2°05′33″W / 52.593889°N 2.092409°W / 52.593889; -2.092409 DC Leisure Management Ltd. Illuminated at night.

Gold Star Morrisons Supermarket, Small Heath, Birmingham Sculpture Bronze 1m 52°28′22″N 1°51′57″W / 52.472850°N 1.865946°W / 52.472850; -1.865946 Morrisons Supermarkets Commemorates BSA.[20]

Green Man Walking Sanders Park, Bromsgrove 2003 (2003) Sculpture
  • marine plywood
  • mild steel
  • stainless steel
Depends on parallax

Weather vane Jubilee House, High Street, Madeley 1997 (1997) Weather vane Madeley Town Council

(untitled?) Jubilee House, High Street, Madeley 1997 (1997) Sculpture Madeley Town Council

Padlock Newhall Hill – Jewellery Quarter 2000 (2000) sculpture Steel 52°28′57″N 1°54′39″W / 52.482547°N 1.910892°W / 52.482547; -1.910892 [21]

Mondobongo Corner of High Street and Burlington Street in Newtown Public transport interchange Steel 52°29′55″N 1°53′42″W / 52.498694°N 1.895002°W / 52.498694; -1.895002 Transport for West Midlands

An even bigger splash! Newtown Swimming Pool & Fitness Centre, High Street, Newtown Public transport interchange Steel 52°29′57″N 1°53′46″W / 52.499162°N 1.895976°W / 52.499162; -1.895976 Transport for West Midlands

More images
Talking about the Weather Field Lane, Bartley Green opposite Romsley Road 2004 (2004) Public transport interchange Steel 52°26′04″N 2°00′17″W / 52.434333°N 2.004596°W / 52.434333; -2.004596 West Midlands Network

Juggernaut Victoria Street, Bordesley Green 2004 (2004) Public transport interchange Steel 52°28′36″N 1°51′23″W / 52.47654°N 1.856401°W / 52.47654; -1.856401 West Midlands Network

Bat wall Longbridge railway station 2013 (2013) mural printed vinyl, glued onto steel plates designed by Renn and Lee Valentine, in collaboration with year 9 students at Turves Green Girls' School[22]


  1. ^ Noszlopy, George T. (2005). Public sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 978-0853239994.
  2. ^ a b c "Round About". MACE Archive. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  3. ^ Ostler, Timothy; Field, Steve (18 January 1984). "Working With Artists: 1 Possibilities". Architects' Journal. 179 (3): 55–59, 61–66.
  4. ^ "Gallery listings". Art Monthly (77): 41. 1 June 1984.
  5. ^ "Artists: Ian Everard". The Jack Fischer Gallery. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Live Art". Renn Associates. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  7. ^ Hatton, Brian (1 October 1993). "Exhibitions: Under Spaghetti Junction". Art Monthly (170): 20.
  8. ^ a b Tilson, Barbara (November 1991). "Art for the People". RIBA Journal. 98 (11): 41.
  9. ^ a b Historic England. "Darwin Gate (1490992)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b c "Large CV" (PDF). Mark Renn & Associates. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Sculpture unveiled at Selby hospital". York Press. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Mark Renn". Axisweb. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  13. ^ "The secrets of city sculptures unlocked". BBC Birmingham. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  14. ^ a b My Jewellery Quarter [@MyJQ] (30 December 2019). "Saddened to learn about the death of Mark Renn after a long illness. He was the creative half of Renn and Thacker who were commissioned in 2000 to create the iconic #JQ Charm Bracelet Pavement Trail and also designed the #JQStation Clockwork sculpture in 2004" (Tweet). Retrieved 4 January 2020 – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Jubilee House Artworks". Madeley Town Council. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  16. ^ Manning, Craig. "Magic Boat is sinking". Wirral Globe. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  17. ^ Murphy, Liam (21 August 2007). "Similar sculptures? No, just pure coincidence ; Council admits 'a remarkable resemblance'". Daily Liverpool Post. p. 12.
  18. ^ Elkes, Neil (21 June 2007). "City artists in battle to save studio". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  19. ^ a b Tomaney, William. "TV chef call pan-tastic for Cookley business". Kidderminster Shuttle. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  20. ^ "Bronze". Renn Associates. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  21. ^ "PMSA". Archived from the original on 10 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Work With Young People". Renn Associates. Retrieved 6 January 2020.

External links[edit]