Ramsgate’s Hands and Molecule sculpture named as UK’s 7th favourite piece of outdoor art

Hands and Molecule at the West Cliff Photo Brian Whitehead

The Hands and Molecule sculpture at Ramsgate’s West Cliff has been named as one of the UK’s top 20 pieces of outdoor art.

A poll was run by Sky Arts to celebrate the launch of its new series, Landmark, where the country’s best artists will compete for the chance to create a brand-new national landmark.

Sky Arts initially asked 1,000 UK adults to share their favourite pieces of free-to-view outdoor artwork, before the list was whittled down to a top 20 by curator, Clare Lilley, one of Landmark’s expert judges, before 2,000 adults then voted for their favourites.

The winner was Ray Lonsdale’s 2014 statue, called ‘1101’ to mark the first minute of peace after armistice at 11am on November 11, 1918, is also known as ‘Tommy’. Lonsdale’s work is in Seaham, County Durham.

The Hands and Molecule sculpture also made the top 20 list.

Photo Brian Whitehead

‘Hands and Molecule’ -a nod to the discovery, development and manufacture of innovative medicines in the county – was in seventh spot.

The sculpture by David Barnes was commissioned by Sustrans, funded by Pfizer Limited and installed by Thanet District Council in 2000.

The bronze is sited as a landmark for the National Cycle Network, which links cycle-paths in
Thanet to destinations all over the UK including London, Penzance, Holyhead, Inverness and Belfast.

The bronze casting was by Livingstone Art Founders.

Photo Brian Whitehead

Clare Lilley, Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and an expert judge on Sky Arts’ Landmark, said: “This list includes some really nice surprises. It’s curious what is missed from the list, such as Barbara Hepworth’s Winged Figure on the side of John Lewis on Oxford Street and Gillian Wearing’s Real Birmingham Family.

“Perhaps some public works are so integrated with their place that they become unseen. I think the public selection shows how figurative sculpture and narrative are seen to be incredibly important in terms of accessibility and conveying messages. Some of the sculptures also indicate the importance of place, forming a kind of bridge between history and now.”

Photo Brian Whitehead

The new show is fronted by Margate’s Gemma Cairney, who delves into the purpose and power of public art as she joins Sky Arts on a mission to create the UK’s next major landmark.

She is joined by two expert judges – curator Clare Lilley and visual artist Hetain Patel – as well as six famous faces, all of them ready to root out the best artistic talent in the region or nation they call home.

As part of the series, Sky Arts is investing £700,000 in public art in total, commissioning 18 new pieces around the country as well as a final national landmark worth £250,000.

Landmark airs weekly from September 6 at 8pm on Sky Arts (Freeview Channel 11) and streaming service NOW.


  1. Wonderful news. Thanks Kathy and all IoTN for highlighting this news with such beautiful photos too.

  2. That’s great news. Ramsgate’s many natural and man-made attractions do seem to be gaining attention after so many years of municipal neglect.
    Sadly last couple of times I passed there was someone waiting patiently while their dog pissed on it. Happily times do seem to be changing.

  3. It’s a fantastic sculpture and I do need to find time to visit. Thank you Brian Whitehead for your patience in taking these brilliant photographs too.

  4. It’s a fantastic piece of art I was under the impression it was to celebrate the innovation and invention of drugs made by Pfizer. Lovely photos as well. I read in the Sunday Newspapers that £10 million is being spent on removing chewing gum off the streets of the U.K. I hope the same can be spent on the removal of graffiti that is far more unpleasant to see in my opinion. I would pay a reward to catch and prosecute those vandals who deface and spoil our environment with their pathetic tags
    Thanet Council should take the lead on this and instruct properly owners to remove graffiti on their property as well as TDC removing graffiti from council properties.

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