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Spanish Artist’s Chicago Fountain Wins the Bombay Sapphire Prize 2006

London, UK – Chicago’s Crown Fountain by Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa has won the Bombay Sapphire Prize 2006, the world’s biggest annual award for artists, designers and architects working with glass. The £20,000 international award for excellence and innovation in contemporary glass was presented to Plensa at a ceremony held this evening in London. The Crown Fountain was judged the winner of the Bombay Sapphire Prize by members of the Bombay Sapphire Foundation who include: Ron Arad, Tom Dixon, Nicole Farhi, Thomas Heatherwick, Lesley Jackson, Dan Klein and Nadja Swarovski. Designer and Foundation member, Ron Arad described the fountain as: “The best example of the use of glass in a public space that I have ever seen. It’s a huge achievement. Public art often antagonises local people but this doesn’t. It’s public art which is loved and delighted by the people of Chicago and is full of happy kids playing in the water.” Plensa uses glass for a variety of reasons but particularly in the case of the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park for its characteristic duality (transparent/opaque, solid/liquid) and its ability to transform the light that passes through it. Two 50-foot illuminated glass towers are shrouded by water, which feeds into a vast but shallow lake, one-eighth of an inch deep and barely forming a skin across the huge black granite pool. Faces of 1,000 Chicago residents appear intermittently on LED screens within the towers and gargoyle-like, sprout water from their mouths. Foundation member, Nadja Swarovski, said Plensa is: “touching people with his art and engaging the general public with his work which is both provoking and beautiful. He brings a sense of calm or zen to the city.” To highlight the work of emerging new talent the Bombay Sapphire Foundation has introduced an additional £5,000 award for ‘Best Newcomer’ which this year was presented to UK designer Laura Birdsall for her work Interior Landscapes. Birdsall cased transparent coloured glass with an opaque white glass to create “a journey into the interior”. The coloured interior is given greater intensity and depth using the technique of heating and stretching the glass. She creates interiors within the interior. The work of the 20 designers short-listed for the Prize is showcased in the Bombay Sapphire Prize exhibition located in Studio 95 at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London until 24 September. The exhibition will then tour the world throughout 2006/07. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE - the premium gin in the translucent blue glass bottle – is a keen supporter of design. Now in its fifth year, the Bombay Sapphire Prize has celebrated the work of some of the world’s most talented artists and designers. Previous winners include Thomas Heatherwick for his Glass Bridge, lighting designer Paul Cocksedge for NeON and Richard Box for his inspirational installation Field.