World-famous Italian sculptor captivates after dropping into UCB to see his work

September 2019

World-famous Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn got to hear why UCB chose his Leap of Faith masterpiece to display in McIntyre House during an impromptu visit to the University.

Dropping in after arriving in Birmingham for a two-week exhibition at the Mailbox, the son of late Academy Award-winning film star Anthony Quinn was told that many UCB students had not considered university and, effectively, took a leap of faith to realise their potential.  

As well as seeing Leap of Faith, displayed behind reception, Lorenzo also got to see another of his pieces, Gravity, in the Edward Pargeter Suite, and chatted to students and staff throughout.

Admissions officer and UCB Enterprise Management graduate Utsaha Shrestha said Lorenzo had been “mesmerising” and captivated everyone with his presence.

“He encouraged and inspired all of us and in my view, was a true hero,” she said. “Very humble.

“He was very passionate about his work, explaining how hands were the most used feature in his art as people all over the world communicated and expressed themselves through hand gestures.

“It’s the one language everyone understands.”

During the visit to McIntyre House, Quinn said he was delighted that his work was in such an inspirational building and available for students from around the world to view and appreciate.

He also asked Alex Lofthouse, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Quality and Estates), why UCB chose Leap of Faith over any other sculpture.

“Alex explained that many of our students may have never thought about studying higher education, but with UCB specialising and providing many vocational courses, the students were able to do so,” said Utsaha. “The sculpture symbolises students taking a leap of faith themselves.”

Quinn began practising art as a painter in the early 1980s when he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in New York City. He also professionally acted in the late 1980s, portraying the young Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari in 1988 Italian film Stradivari. Quinn's father Anthony starred as the adult Stradivari. 

Exhibiting globally from London to Doha, this year saw the unveiling of his extraordinary Building Bridges sculpture at the Venice Biennale. The giant work of art comprises six pairs of hands joining in an arch to represent friendship, wisdom, help, faith, hope and love.

Quinn on Leap of Faith: “The past is set in stone, the present is carving itself in wood and the future is an empty goblet to fill with dreams. We live in a fast-moving world where we rarely take time to relish all that life offers. We often freeze in the face of difficulties, lacking the will or drive to move forward. But those very difficulties are time for blind faith in our own capabilities, to pluck up courage, make the leap, in the hope of landing on the firm ground of dreams fulfilled. 

 “Leap of Faith is a sculpture that prompts reflection on the need to be positive, even in the darkest moments, because there is always hope.” 

Quinn on Gravity: “It is essential to find a balance in life. Many times that balance is achieved with the help of the people who surround us and hold us firmly to the ground and without whom we would float into perdition.”

Find out more about McIntyre House.

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