Art September 2014

Trophy Sculpture to Inspire Business Leaders

With over 180 seats now booked for the British Business Awards (BBA) on 14 November, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) is expecting the night to be the highlight of their calendar.

Held at the Hilton Tokyo hotel in Shinjuku, the event—now in its seventh year—will recognise excellence, celebrate success and promote innovation across all industries.

Scottish artist Kate Thomson who has been designing and making the trophies since 2010, will be making an additional trophy this year for a new category: New Market Entry.

An international sculptor based at Ukishima Sculpture Studio in Iwate Prefecture, and Edinburgh, Thomson shares her thoughts on her work, and how it may inspire change.

What was your inspiration for this year’s trophy design?
I chose the shape of a pair of unfolding wings to express power, aspiration and a sense of dignity, after being inspired by a bird’s wings unfurling in preparation for flight.

The wings of the sculpture signify partnership, be it between co-workers, firms, or Japan and the UK. Each of the seven 30cm-high trophies is individually carved from one piece of Italian Carrara marble and set on a 5cm-high black granite base.

Do you aim to convey a message through your sculptures?
My work explores and celebrates life. I draw inspiration from the natural world and cultural relationships.

I want all of my sculptures—from large-scale, site-specific public sculptures for parks, gardens and buildings to intimate pieces that can be held in the palm of your hand—to invite the viewer to explore and appreciate the world, and their place in it. I hope each individual will interpret the sculptures from their own perspective.

Large works, such as the granite sculpture “Waves of Affinity” (at the British Embassy Tokyo) and the five marble sculptures “Keys to Affinity” (at Otemachi Financial City), allow the viewer to enter a physical space designed as a set for the theatre of life.

The small works, meanwhile, depict life and are designed to be spaces to house and nurture the beholder’s imagination.

What did you hope to achieve with the BBA trophies?
I wanted to create a sense of celebrating dynamic innovation and ideas. First and foremost, the trophies are symbols of achievement presented on the evening of the awards. After that, they will most probably sit on the winners’ desks for years to come.

The trophy must be suitably eye-catching to solicit enquiry from visitors, so that the achievement of the award can be shared. At the same time, it should be intriguingly subtle, to sustain the energy of the recipient, reminding them daily of their success.

In this way, the trophy will encourage continued confidence and aspiration. I hope it will reflect the beauty of well-deserved recognition, while inspiring strength and determination to overcome difficult times, in order to continue to thrive.

The paired designs imbue each piece with a sense of two elements, or different perspectives that are held together under tension to create a dance of life.

This relationship may have a dangerous edge, yet it is the essential energy creating a harmonious and mutually supportive balance. It represents the complexity of working in a business, especially in one where two cultural backgrounds are represented.

Each multi-faceted trophy is carved from one stone to convey the strength that cultural cooperation brings to the business field.

How has the design of the BBA trophies changed?
I have designed and made the BBA marble sculptures since 2009.

I have enjoyed the challenge of finding new ideas every year to create a tangible abstract form to illustrate the BBA goals: to recognise excellence; promote success and innovation across all industries; and to commend the important social contributions made by organisations through their commitment to community, ethical behaviour and environmental sustainability.

Abstract form allows me to condense rich associations and complexity into elegant simplicity.

Each year, I have focused on dynamic upward movement, the shapes designed to express and celebrate innovation; determination and endurance; responsible awareness of society and community; and positive working relationships employed by businesses to find elegant solutions to complex issues.

For the first three years I adapted my previous sculptures that had been admired by members of the BCCJ executive committee, incorporating their essence in the trophy designs. Over the past three years, however, I have produced three totally new works.

Art is about ways of looking at the world. Working with the BCCJ for the BBA trophies has provided insight into the rich diversity of the business world in Japan, which has inspired new ideas for sculpture.

I have been extremely impressed by the imagination and warmth within the BCCJ community, and particularly the moral and practical support given by members to the Tohoku region since the devastating triple disaster of March 2011.

I hope my trophies will support the admirable goals of the BBA, and nurture the continued success of all those who have been awarded them.

Get involved
To nominate yourself, your firm or chosen nominee for one of the six BBA categories—Company of the Year; Entrepreneur of the Year; UK–Japan Partnership; Community Contribution; Person of the Year; and New Market Entry—simply complete and submit the appropriate online nomination form by 5pm on 31 October.

The document is at:

You may book your seat for the 2014 British Business Awards at: