Back in January 2008 a selection panel including members of the Clough family chose Les Johnson as the sculptor to make the bronze statue of Cloughie in Nottingham city centre. It followed an amazing fund-raising campaign by a small group of volunteers who raised £70,000 in eighteen months. 

A total of eighteen submissions were received from sculptors around the UK and these were narrowed down to a shortlist of three. The selection panel included Barbara Clough, her son Simon and daughter Elizabeth. 

Hampshire-based sculptor Les Johnson (pictured on unveiling day) originally studied in Australia and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. He was chosen after submitting an outstanding bust of Cloughie (pictured) along with a maquette (a small version of the statue) showing the pose of the sculpture.

Barbara Clough told this website at the time that she was delighted  Les Johnson had been chosen to create the bronze statue. It was the unanimous decision of the panel. 

Les Johnson was also the most popular choice in a public consultation which involved an exhibition at the Council House and views submitted by e-mail to this website. The two other short-listed sculptors were Keith Maddison from Northumberland and John McKenna from Ayreshire in Scotland. Each artist gave a presentation to the panel.

Mrs Clough is pictured with the chairman of the statue fund and selection panel, Paul Ellis (left), and Nottingham city councillor David Trimble who was also on the panel. She was accompanied at the meeting by her son Simon and daughter Elizabeth. Her son Nigel had visited the display at the Council House to see the work submitted by the three artists.

Mrs Clough told this website: "It was a very difficult decision because the submissions by all three sculptors were impressive. I’d like to thank all three artists for taking part in the selection process.

"I am absolutely delighted that the panel all agreed that Les Johnson should be awarded the commission. There is something very instinctive about his work and I feel confident he can produce a first class statue. 

"I was very impressed by the likeness of the bust he created - it captures a lot of Brian's character. I also liked the pose with Brian's hands clasped above his head. It conveys a sense of sharing a celebration with the fans. "


Mrs Clough also said at the time (January 2008) that she was very pleased about where the statue would be placed, at the junction of King Street and Queen Street. "I think the location of the statue is very fitting, being close to the market square and the Council House, the scene of those trophy celebrations.

"I would also like to say a special thank you to the volunteers who helped to raise the money for the statue fund. On behalf of all my family I can say we are all very proud."

 Mrs Clough said she was also happy to advise Les Johnson on re-creating the facial features on the final statue, as she did for the sculptor Vivien Mallock for the statue of Mr Clough in Middlesbrough.

Les Johnson said he was delighted to have secured the commission. "This is a most prestigious project," he told this website. "Brian Clough is such an iconic figure. He was unique and deserves to be commemorated. I am so pleased to be involved in celebrating his life."

Mrs Clough with Elizabeth & Simon at Nottm Council House

Les explained his inspiration for the pose of the statue: "It is one of celebration. He is acknowledging the crowd - saying we have done it together. It symbolises his links with the city. Nottingham has done a lot for him and he has done a lot for Nottingham."

Councillor David Trimble, said: "Les Johnson's work was by far the best quality, particularly the animation in the maquette and the finesse of the detail of the eyes in the bust, bringing out that cheekiness.

"The success of the statue fund in raising the money for this project has underlined just how loved and admired Brian Clough was. He was made a Freeman of the City and this statue will be a lasting tribute to the achievements of a legend who, along with Robin Hood, is undoubtedly one of the most famous people associated with Nottingham."

The three short-listed artists had been asked to submit a portrait bust, to show how they would re-create the facial features of the Master Manager, and a miniature statue (maquette) to show the type of pose.

The chairman of the statue fund and selection panel, Paul Ellis, said he was pleased the decision to select Les Johnson was a unanimous one. "The decision was not easy, but we all felt that Les Johnson is the artist who will produce an excellent statue in tribute to Brian Clough."

The Brian Clough Statue Fund (Nottingham) was launched in June 2005 by a small group of volunteers. It smashed through the £60,000 target in just 18 months. Money was raised in various ways, including the sale of tribute badges and replica green sweatshirts. On-line auctions for special pieces of memorabilia also raised cash. A gala dinner, attended by members of the Clough family and several Nottingham Forest legends, raised £9,000. 

Forest and the city council each donated £5,000 to take the total to over £69,000. With interest added, the volunteers handed-over a cheque for £70,000 to the city council, which commissioned the statue and has the responsibilty to ensure it is protected and professionally maintained for future generations to appreciate.


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