A tribute to Liverpool’s famed Liver Bird, Roman Standard was Emin’s first public art project. She describes the sculpture, often mistaken as a real bird, as a symbol of “hope, faith and spirituality” that acts as a point of contemplation.
The sculpture is Emin’s take on the Roman standard – a pennant attached to a staff or pole that identified their legions. The legions were represented by an animal, most famously the eagle. Emin subverts the militaristic overtones of the standard by using a small sculpture of a songbird.
“Most public sculptures are a symbol of power which I find oppressive and dark,” said Emin. “I wanted something that had a magic and an alchemy, something which would appear and disappear and not dominate.”
Discover the sculpture in our courtyard garden where it forms a link between the stone ostriches that adorn the gateway to the original 18th century townhouse.
This work is part of a gift of six artworks by the group of contemporary artists known as the Young British Artists (YBAs), including Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and Gavin Turk, given to the Gallery by Frank and Lorna Dunphy under the Cultural Gifts Scheme in 2018.