The bronze statues, rising high at three different locations around the Emirates Stadium, were all the fruits of a year-long project headed by design consulancy 20.20.
20.20, which led the art direction of the statues from January this year, strived to fulfill Arsenal’s objective of delivering ‘three iconic statues that were of a very high standard and quality,’ according to creative director (and Arsenal fan) Jon Lee.
The first stage of the project involved substantial research into who and how would be depicted. 20.20 looked at other scuptures in London, such as that of poet Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras International station.
After exploring the field of sculpture, 20.20 appointed sculpture business MDM to carve the statues. ‘It was a quite straightforward decision,’ says Lee. ‘We gave them as much information as possible about the players and Herbert Chapman, including video footage and the shirt they were wearing.’
Sculpted in clay over a steel and aluminium armature, the statues are one-and-a-half times life size. Lee says, ‘the detail and the quality of these pieces are exactly what we set out to achieve.’
The statues are all depicted in a symbolic way. As the manager who revolutionised Arsenal in the 1930s, Chapman looks towards the stadium. Adams and Henry celebrate scoring crucial goals, which reflects their important contribution to the club’s successes.
20.20 met with challenges in the course of the project, and ‘the biggest one was putting the statues into the ground,’ says Lee. With 60,000 fans on a match day, ‘positioning the statues was structurally very important.’
20.20 has been working with Arsenal F.C. for over eight years now. It has in the past worked on environmental spaces at the club. Other projects for Arsenal’s 125th birthday inlcude the ‘125’ banners around the stadium and ‘the concept of the badge that’s on the shirt,’ says Lee.