Public Arts Wakefield commissioned me to make a free standing ‘Charm Circle’ (see Circle on Huntcliff ) on behalf of Groundwork Dearne Valley near Barnsley. It was for the reclaimed colliery at Hickleton, aka Phoenix Park, now owned by Yorkshire Forward.
During consultation with the community group; (that mainly comprised the widows of the miners who had worked the mines) I showed them slides of previous work. They saw images of the ’Charm Bracelet’ and asked me if I could make them a ring similar to the one on Huntcliff.
I was shown several pieces of personal mining equipment in their village museum and used them as models for larger steel versions that I made out of steel. I incorporated them as charms into a ring rolled by Accurate Section Benders from a structural joist similar to those used in the mines themselves. I made canaries, a miners lamp, a lunch box, a horse shoe and jack knife and a shovel and pick axe. The sculpture was approved by the Dearne Valley Groundwork Trust who came to see the piece at my workshop whilst work was underway.
After everything had been going so well, and being so close to finishing, it was very disappointing when suddenly individuals at Yorkshire Forward; who had previously taken a back seat in the project, raised concerns about Health & Safety issues. They categorically wanted me to weld the hanging objects into a rigid structure, fearing ‘finger and head traps’ and weld pins to the sculpture so it could be grouted into the hillside!
I decided that I had no other option than to refuse to do so and sent it off for them to modify the sculpture as they wished.
The photographs show the sculpture at its best before it was loaded up one dismal, misty dawn on 11th December 2001 and that was the last time I saw it. I hear that it is now in situ having been galvanised and welded solid by others.