This was a project in which I worked closely with Chris Plowman, artist, in 2005. It involved making features for play and sports areas; and involved Groundwork Blackburn, Capita Symonds and Blackburn and Darwin BC. The project was funded by the Barclays Spaces for Sport.
As well as spending several months making all the artwork in our studios we spent many hours travelling by car and van to Blackburn to visit sites, schools and a youth club and finally to install the work.
Chris used children’s drawings, brilliantly transforming them into panels, archways and gates for the play areas. I also used their imagery for the Manxman marker-post in much the same way as I had done years earlier in West Cumbria; overlooking the Blackburn Rangers FC I used their blue and white team colours. I also made a 1.5 meter long seat/skate-board for a truncated skate park on the same site.
Resulting from meetings and demands from a local youth club for a shelter to hang out in, I made them one that they managed to vandalise around Christmas time 2005. On a happier note have a look at the local Manxman lads on the skateboard, one of my favourite artworks!
The sculpture was installed around Christmas 2005 during a flurry of snow when Rialto Homes new development at Winterthur Way was nearing completion. Parties involved were Basingstoke and Deane Council, AHA Architecture Ltd and Starberry who helped guide my ideas to the dots and dash of the Victory Morse code message.
The development and sculpture take their name from a nearby pub The Victory that was demolished during the sixties when Basingstoke became the capital town of roundabouts. The four piece installation comprises sanded stainless steel pyramids of various heights that are decorated with triangular copper sheet echoing the roofs of the buildings. At their apex are three 800mm diameter copper spheres and one lozenge that make up the Dot/Dot/Dot/Dash of the installation.
The components for these pieces were spun from 3mm copper by Metspin near Emsworth but there were long delays in the supply of the parts on account of the first Gulf war; the firm involved being stretched to make pieces for the MOD and because the spinnings for Victory Hill were so large they had to be annealed several times.
Later on further problems arose through using a wrongly specified adhesive 'strong enough to hold trains together' to join the hemispheres together. The problem of joining the hemispheres was resolved by Ron Neal a local model-maker and steam engineer after a chance encounter at a train model fair, who used countersunk brass screws into tapped holes, as fixings.
The sculpture is visible both from the access road to the residential units and the railway line that creates a direct link between Basingstoke and London. The project took around three years from start to finish and is probably the most architectural structure I have made.
Pics and Text to follow
The sculpture was made in 2000 just ready for the exhibition at St Marys in Southampton. It refers to an ‘amazing fact’ described on a ‘did you know’ series of cards once found in a pack of tea stating that if you were to leave a razor blade in the Cheops pyramid that it would regain its edge.
Whether this is true or not I thought that the reference to such a mysterious and implausible concept was worth looking at.
The project was a joint venture between Groundwork Blackburn and Lancaster City Council. Although thirty miles from Windermere the city is often described as ‘The Gateway to the Lakes’ and new signage and a Landmark were commissioned for the White Lund Industrial Estate. The brief requested the artist to propose a strategic landmark and entrance into the Estate.
At the interview in November 2005 I asked members of the Green Park Initiative to consider their own bunches of keys as inspiration for a monumental set of keys that would reflect the idea of a Gateway.
I also sifted through hundreds of keys at the city town hall adjacent to the prison imagining something composed of ancient key shapes would be better. However the committee wanted me to use modern keys as my subject matter. In the end the idea of car and house keys did appeal to the panel and the idea evolved into a six meter tall sculpture comprising keys, ring and fob sporting a big ‘W‘ for (Whitelund), cut out of 60mm steel that was then galvanised.
I worked on several models ‘down south’ and eventually the best one was chosen as a pattern for a local firm to fabricate. This was the first time; mainly due to potential transport and production costs in the south being prohibitive; that the work was manufactured by others away from my supervision. It as manufactured by Howard Mercer Metalworks, who also installed the piece, using shapes cut out by LOKS based upon my concept drawings and maquette. The project was completed in 2006
I had often thought it would be good to make a familiar object to which every passer-by could relate. Perhaps one day an opportunity to work with the idea of lost property might arise.
Driven by my love of eggs taken direct from our chickens, and my long gone habit of frying them in the morning I thought it was worth celebrating in steel and paint.
My interest lies in the inner white around the Yolk which is the sign of a truly fresh egg; and the fact that every time you crack an egg its shape in the frying pan is subtly different from all others. The egg I made looks like the side-view of a chicken’s head!
There was also a rumour that a warm fried egg was found by someone in a field in Wiltshire; it was one of those little mysteries that was never verified or even solved but took root in the imaginations and eventual mythology of the few people who were aware of the story.
Perhaps it happened at Easter time and like crop circles many believed it to be a hoax.