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Category Archives: Part 1
Option 1: Threshfield Quarry
This is an industrial landscape in an urban setting in the Yorkshire Dales. It used to be quarried for limestone, initially used by being burnt to provide lime for dressing fields and for mortar, cements and plaster. More latterly the stone was used for the construction industry. It was worked for over 100 years until 2000. Recently it was fully closed and restoration is now underway, with plans to develop a heritage trail, car park, information centre and business units.
There are a number of potential sculpture locations around the site.
The lime kiln area
Vehicle washing area
Of these, the location with the most potential seems to be the gorge entrance track.
The bare site seems to offer a blank canvas to play with. The site appeals to me as it has the evidence of previous industry with rusting metal and ruined buildings. Decay often seems to offer much more interest to me in terms of shapes and textures. The vegetation has taken hold in some areas which makes exploring the site seem like uncovering archaeology. There is also a desolate feel about the site, sadness about an industry now gone and a busy place returning to silence.
Option 2: Skipton
Previously known as ‘Sheep Town’ and ‘Sheepton’ before becoming ‘Skipton’, the market town has a long history as market for sheep and woollen goods.
It has one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval castles in England. During the Civil War, this castle was the last Royalist stronghold in the North, until its surrender in 1645 after a three-year siege.
The Leeds-Liverpool canal runs through it and textile mills were situated there during the industrial revolution as well as deliveries from sandstone and limestone quarries.
Now known as “Capital of Craven” and the “Gateway to the Dales” and its main business is from tourism.
A number of possible sculptures were explored.
A new canal bridge
This was an interesting idea to pursue, but in reality such a bridge would be too visually intrusive in such a historic area and would not fit in well with the surroundings.
Overall, there doesn’t seem to be a single area which would suit a large public sculpture (which isn’t already occupied). There are however a lot of smaller sites which would seem to offer the potential to link together with a sculpture trail. These sculptures would need to be linked together in some way. The ‘sheep’ connection has been explored already with various sheep decorated by artists as part of the local art event ‘Art in the Pen’ a few years back, of which one remains in the town.
The canal offers quite a number of sites, so a connection could be made there.
The idea which most appealed to me though, was the link which could be made through the towns proclaimed status as the ‘Gateway to the Dales’.
This could be celebrated through sculptures of map tiles depicting locations in the Dales, with a starting point of a map tile of Skipton. Other locations might include:
- The local ‘honeypot’ villages of Malham and Grassington
- The Yorkshire three peaks
- The Settle-Carlisle railway / Ribblehead viaduct
- Malham cove
- Caves (stump cross caverns / White scar caves / etc.)
- The Pennine Way / Pennine Bridleway / Dales Way
- Asygarth falls
A sketch of the Skipton tile:
Destinationskipton.com, (2015). History : Destination Skipton. [online] Available at: http://www.destinationskipton.com/index.php/history/ [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].
Facebook.com, (2015). Threshfield Quarry. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/threshfieldquarry [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].
Skiptoncastle.co.uk, (2015). Skipton Castle, Superbly Preserved Medieval Castle, Yorkshire. [online] Available at: http://www.skiptoncastle.co.uk/index.asp?page=1 [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].
Uwhg.org.uk, (2015). The History of Threshfield Quarry. [online] Available at: http://www.uwhg.org.uk/reports/displays/tq_display/history/history.html [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].
Welcometoskipton.com, (2015). Welcome to Skipton | A Brief History of Skipton. [online] Available at: http://www.welcometoskipton.com/item/A-Little-History-of-Skipton [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].
Ydlrt.co.uk, (2015). Threshfield Quarry Project main page. [online] Available at: http://ydlrt.co.uk/tfield_quarry/tfield_quarry.html [Accessed 21 Oct. 2015].
I’m quite taken by both the Threshfield quarry gorge entrance site and also the idea of a sculpture trail around Skipton.
I may work on both of these for a while before deciding which one to finally go with.
The Threshfield quarry option would fall under the category of commemoration in referencing the historic industrial origins of the site and its return to nature, as well as being an aesthetic enhancement of the space.
The Skipton option celebrates the towns’ current connections, not historical events, so I guess this just falls within the aesthetic enhancement of a public space category. However, the development of a sculpture trail would presumably then put it in the category of facilitating social interaction from the viewers as they tour around the locations?
As a location for the starting ‘Skipton’ map tile, I think that the bus station is the best central location for this sculpture.
A collection of work by 42 current British artists using wide ranging mediums should have given a lot of options to excite and inspire me, but resulted in an exhibition which I found thoroughly underwhelming.
Although I only dipped into the films, these mostly did look interesting, beautifully shot and pared very well with very intense soundtracks, which were often aimed at distorting reality. However, the other work seemed dull and pointless. A few examples below:
Anthea Hamilton’s plastic covered billboard type images with a built in ant farm – what? There was no evidence of craftsmanship in these pieces and as far as I could tell, it didn’t mean anything either.
Nicolas Deshayes sprayed expanding foam to look like intestines – why? They looked like someone had randomly sprayed expanding foam, presumably exactly what he did to produce them. I guess I rebel against this type of work for two reasons, firstly the initial impression it gives is one which is slightly revolting (similar to if he has used actual intestines), secondly, the lack of physical moulding/sculpting/craftsmanship. I’m sure that to get this simple shape he probably had to practice different ways of spraying expanding foam until he achieved what he wanted, but there is a lack of involvement in the work (letting it form itself) which I find lazy. Maybe I feel that if the artist can’t be bothered to get stuck into the creation of a sculpture, why should I be bothered to view it?
Jessica Warboys image was a similar theme, this time using natural phenomena to produce her work. She used pigment on sea-soaked canvas and allowed the waves and wind to determine the resulting image. This was an interesting idea, but the photograph actually makes it look better than it was and overall it just looked a little drab.
If you hold the opinion that ‘modern art is all rubbish’, then this exhibition will do nothing to change your views. Overall, nothing really grabbed me in this exhibition and it was quite disappointing. There seemed to be a lack of imagination as well as a lack of skill/talent in its production. The best bit for me was overhearing a question to one of the staff there “Is this art, or is it just tissues?” – The reply was that it was art, but I could understand why it was questioned!
The exhibition of Henry Moore maquettes were very interesting. Whilst I am quite familiar with some of his larger figure sculptures, I particularly liked his small maquettes, especially his work incorporating background walls with squares cut out which I hadn’t seen before.
‘Three Motives against Wall No.1’, 1958 & ‘Maquette for Girl Seated against Square Wall’, 1957
I may steal this idea in a future work!
An exhibition of Paul Neagu was on when I went and this was also interesting, although a lot of the work looked dated. What interested me was that he continually explored a number of themes/subjects over many years, resulting in many different versions and developing the work into weird and wonderful things which have come a long way from their origins. I am doing this myself in continuing my ‘residencies’ work and might extend this to other ideas.
Unfortunately no photography was allowed in this exhibition, but ‘White Cardinal’ was the object which particularly stuck me, a sculptural scene in a suitcase, with the sketch on one side and a maquette of the sculpture in landscaped surroundings in the other – a very effective and unusual display method.
Site location photographs:
This would be a bronze sculpture with the dimensions of approximately 1.2m x 1.2m x 1.2m (although other sizes would work so it could be cost dependant).
The top would appear to be a sheet of thickness 6-8cm, but in reality this would be a hollow shape to keep the weight of bronze down. The top surface would be cast, with the sides and bottom surface constructed from sheet bronze and welded together. The base could also be constructed from sheet bronze, or could be constructed from a cheaper material if required (even a block of concrete, hollow the centre to reduce the amount of material needed). The base would determine the fixing method which could be bolted or fixed into the concrete.
A sculpture of this size would be sent away to a bronze foundry to produce.
The full scale sculpture could be made out of anything before casting. Foamboard covered in paper-mache might provide the easiest and lightest material to construct this out of, with other mixed media additions to provide the map features. This could then either be transported to the foundry to mould and cast, or the foundry might send out staff to produce the mould on site.
Site location photographs:
This sculpture would be constructed out of core-10 steel with dimensions of approximately 10m x 1m x 1m. The curved shape would be achieved by a company who offer plate rolling services as it would be extremely time consuming (if possible) to do this in any other way. The different sections could be bolted together and the bolts welded on for security, or the bolts could be merely decorative with the sheets welded together. The steel sections could be cut with a plasma cutter, as could the ‘rust’ holes. If core-10 steel responds like normal steel, a couple of sprays with a rust accelerator (vinegar, salt and hydrogen peroxide) would give a rusty exterior within a few days. This could then be left to develop further without providing any further treatment.
Steel rods could be welded to the bottom of the sculpture and set into concrete pads to provide a solid base.
Soil would be inserted into the holes, but the vegetation of these areas left to natural processes.
This exhibition was held at The Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I started with some of his works in the open air, ‘Promenade, 1996’ is a large five piece sculpture in painted steel by the lake at YSP. This sculpture is a combination of curved and angular shapes which look very industrial in nature, helped by its utilitarian grey colour. They demand attention by their size, but don’t hold it for me. There is no texture variation, or interesting areas to explore which is what I think is what really holds my attention in a sculpture.
Moving on to the Longside gallery it became obvious that the industrial nature of steel forms and their uniform colouration was a theme that runs through Caro’s work. His early work, “First National, 1964” is quite a typical piece, constructed of steel and painted in bold uniform colours, this time in green and yellow. Caro is credited with moving sculpture off the plinth and into the floor, so his work is an important stepping stone from the classical statues on plinths to today’s ‘anything goes’ approach. Both this and the bold colouration of his pieces would have been quite a change in his time, but the pieces do now seem dated. Again, I find that they do not hold my attention for long.
It is interesting that Caro worked as an assistant to Henry Moore, but his style is very different to his, using angular steel rather then Moore’s more organic shapes.
An exception to this style was the work “Xanadu, 1986-1988”, again in steel, but this time it looks like the steel is recycled from a previous purpose with some paint evident, rusted and then waxed. The shapes in this piece are less uniform and the surface has much more texture and pattern. It is interesting looking back on this sculpture to write this blog, my visit was all a bit of a rush so I took more photographs than notes. I remember thinking at the time that I really liked this sculpture but looking at the image of it I took below, as a sculpture this work seems to sit in the room like a jumbled piece of junk. What was fascinating for me about this piece was the texture and patterns, which demanded a closer examination. The re-use of metal shows in the surface pattern and decay, indicating it’s past use. I enjoy the textural marks and these offer potential for me with my work. It would be interesting to view this sculpture again and see if it does work from a distance at other angles. In form it appears much less cohesive than his uniformly coloured pieces.
The Longside gallery had quite a lot of his later works that featured the use of Perspex sheets. I was interested in their use and how they were joined to the steel pieces, particularly in “Mirror, 2013” where it was slotted through the steel or supported like a shelf. This like a lot of his later works seemed cluttered and lacking in any cohesive form though.
My favourite later works of Caro were the three books “Sans Serif, 2013”, “Turner’s Book, 2011-2013” and “A Long Tale, 2011-2013”, all made from cast and forged steel and stoneware. I’ve no idea how he managed to join together steel and ceramic without it shattering, but the two mediums work well together in these pieces and I’d love to have a go at trying to do this. Again I think it is the portrayal of decay which appeals to me and also the detail and texture variation which invites closer inspection and exploration.
Overall a very interesting exhibition and I feel I can take a number of his methods / use of materials into my work.
Anthonycaro.org, (2015). Sir Anthony Caro – Sculptor. [online] Available at: http://www.anthonycaro.org/ [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].
Annelyjudafineart.co.uk, (2014). Annely Juda Fine Art | Exhibitions | Anthony Caro: The Last Sculptures (2014). [online] Available at: http://www.annelyjudafineart.co.uk/exhibitions/anthony-caro [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].
The initial form could be built from cheap and easily accessible materials, using foam board initially, covered in paper mache and assorted other materials to provide texture and represent features in the landscape. Reaching all the surface could prove to be an issue, especially in the centre, but as long as you could access it from all sides this should be achievable. At 1.2m square this should be achievable in a small workshop, so space to construct it shouldn’t be an issue.
This initial form would need to be sealed and moulded in rubber and fibreglass to then be modelled in wax. The surface would need to be split up into sections to do this as such a large sheet could not be cast in one section. The wax would then be shelled up and cast, then welded back together into one sheet. The foundry would complete this process though, from the modelling to the finished piece.
The corners would need to be rounded to some extent to prevent injury to passers-by. Being constructed out of bronze it will be durable from the weather and any potential vandalism. Because of the shape of the map tile, the flow of water falling on the sculpture would have to be taken into account. If it was placed horizontal, water would probably pool in the centre of the sculpture and build up gung. Due to this it might be best to introduce a tilt on the tile, possibly quite a big one to make it look deliberate and not just badly lined up.
The size of the piece and the base construction could be modified according to the budget available. Also, as this is planned as the starting point of a sculpture trail around the town, the size and location of the other map tiles would also have to be worked out and budgeted for at the same time.
When constructed, this piece would be very heavy, so would require a truck with a crane to move the piece to site and onto its base. If the base was bronze also, the piece would be moved as a completed piece from the foundry to the site. If the base was concrete (more economical), then it would make sense to produce a cast block of concrete that the top could be bolted to. This could be assembled on site, but it would probably make sense to do this in a safer environment (as you would need to get underneath the concrete block), bolt the two together, then transport the whole piece to site.
Due to the weight of this piece I think it could just sit on top of the paving at the site with perhaps some mortar around the base.
If this was the starting point of a sculpture trail, a notice board describing the route around the sculptures would need to accompany this sculpture.
The curved metal pieces would need to be formed at a plate rolling company at the right curvature, they would probably also be cut to size at the same time. Forming the joining strips of metal would be more of an issue, I imagine the best way of doing this would be to hot or cold work the metal to introduce the curves? This might have to be constructed out of thinner steel to allow this to be done and perhaps have two pieces together to provide the strength required. Because of the size of this sculpture, workshop space would probably need to be hired to have enough space to create it.
I don’t think there is much scope for budget creep with these sculptures (unless you reduced the number of sections), so the costs of providing the curved metal sections would need to be fixed before agreeing the budget.
It would need to be constructed from weather resistant core-10 steel to ensure that it keeps its integrity as time goes on, as normal steel would continue to rust and eventually become unstable.
When constructed, this piece would also be very heavy, so would require a truck with a crane to move the piece to site and onto its base. It could be constructed to its full height and moved as one piece, or it could be moved in sections and welded together on site.
To fix this in place it would probably be best to weld it to a number of reinforcing steel bars which could then be set into concrete. A deep hole would need to be dug on site for this concrete base. A surveyor/architect would need to be employed to calculate the concrete pad and correct dimensions of steel bar to which would be required to do this correctly and safely.
It would probably be best to construct the piece in two sections, the bottom piece a single section with the reinforcing steel bars which could be set into a concrete base and left to set. The top section could then be welded on top at a later date.
One danger that would need to be accounted for would be the potential for this sculpture to be used as a climbing frame by the public. The initial idea of bolts holding it together might not be a good idea because of the hand/footholds they would offer, so rounded rivet-like shapes may be a better option.
Skipton map tile
The maquette for this sculpture was produced from similar materials that the full size sculpture would be constructed out of. Because this is a smaller sculpture, a scale of 1:4 was chosen and a 30cm square tile produced.
The initial stage was to create the map tile from sheets of foam board, cutting them roughly to the contours of the land. The transport links were to be highlighted as features, so the route of the canal was cut out of the board to highlight this.
Paper mache was then applied to smooth out the shapes and wool like fabric added to the hillsides (to reference the “sheep town”). The rail and road lines were added in 3D paint (at a larger scale thick string might be used for this purpose which would provide an interesting texture).
This was then sealed and then moulded in rubber with a plaster shell. Unfortunately the wool texture was not sealed well enough and embedded itself in the rubber. This was eventually removed through brute force, but a lot of the material was left in the rubber. The string applied for the railway line also encased itself in the rubber and was lost from the design. This would have to be added back into the wax using carving.
(I forgot to photograph the work before moulding it)
Do to time constraints my aim was to produce this map tile in paper clay slip rather than bronze. I poured slip into the rubber mould, but it didn’t seem to want to dry out at all.
My slip cast did eventually dry, but cracked along the lines of the canals where it was thinnest and stuck to the embedded material and had to be broken out in these areas:
Overall, a disaster! However, it has taught me some valuable lessons. The most important of these was that whilst I was waiting for it to dry, I came to realise that it was going to be a pretty uninteresting sculpture (whether successful or not). There wasn’t much that would distinguish this from a 3D map you might buy in a shop apart from its medium. I had got lost in the process side of things and the need to get the work finished by a deadline. I should have left it alone for a while to think about it and whether it worked as a sculpture before ploughing on with the moulding process.
What could make it more interesting? The contour map is how it is, but the surface could be made far more interesting by incorporating objects / toys / etc. to reference the areas I was trying to highlight. For example, the wheels off a toy could reference the road network, sections of knitting/crocheting would be better on the hills than the wool fabric I had tried to use initially and could be formed into more interesting shapes and textures. Objects such as these could be added to the map tile, sealed in properly, then moulded and cast. This would be similar to the approach used by Sophie Ryder in her sculpture ‘Crawling’, 1999 where she added car parts and plastic toys to add interest and texture.
The danger is that this might look a bit cluttered on a small map tile, but I will give it a go and see how I get on.
1:4 scale maquette in foamboard, paper mache and found objects.
I was much more pleased about this maquette than my previous attempts. It is also properly sealed onto the base and shouldn’t cause problems when being moulded.
I will continue to develop this sculpture and add it back in here when it is in a state worthy of being on here, but as I have my second option for Threshfield quarry, that will suffice for this section for now.
I chose to construct this maquette out of paper clay as I thought this would be the easiest medium to achieve the curves I needed for this sculpture. I started out by making a plaster form on which to form my sheets of clay:
This wasn’t as successful a former as I had hoped, but it did provide a gentle curve to start the sections off on and it was twisted by hand after their construction.
The five sections were created by using this mould to support one side and constructing the edges and second side on top of it. These were then joined together once dry by blocks of paper clay and attached to a base.
Unfortunately because this is a very tall thin sculpture, this didn’t provide a very secure join between the pieces. They hold together and have survived the painting process, but they would not survive any lateral force being applied to them.
Once fully dry, the paper clay was painted in primer and then iron paint which was then treated with a rust activator to rust the surface. The base areas were painted with acrylic paint. Fabric mesh was treated with acrylic paint to represent the vegetation growing in the cracks and inserted into the holes when dry.
My tutor didn’t like the ‘stones’ around the base, saying that it was “hiding the base rather than celebrating how it stands”. Also the green ‘vegetation’ doesn’t work on the images and looks like it is just stuck in, distracting from the rest of the sculpture.
I removed both these elements and re-photographed. These two images clearly show the before and after:
It does stand stronger without the boulders at the base and the removal of the green fabric does also help.
45cm x 15cm x 15cm
1:20 scale maquette in paper clay and fabric, with iron and acrylic paint.
I thought of the potential problems with the bolts providing hand/footholds (mentioned in my previous blog post) after I had constructed the maquette, so these features may need to be altered in the full scale sculpture.
(Not the best mock-ups, but you get enough of an idea of how it would work on the site)
The most important lesson I have learnt with this project is the need to step back from what I am doing at times to ensure I am on the right path. I enjoy the process side of things and the challenge that it offers, but can let that overtake the artwork I am trying to create. My first disastrous attempt at the Skipton sculpture was just what I needed to re-focus on what I was trying to create. I need to build in more time for reflection whilst creating work to ensure I am on the right path.
This sculpture provides an imposing and dynamic gateway into the quarry site, standing as a memorial to the human presence on the site which is now gone, the industry, construction, toil and noise that took place here. It has a corporal feel, that of two sentries guarding the entrance. The rust patina and after time the splashes of vegetation which would appear, reference the new life of the site as it returns to nature.
The site appealed to me as it has the evidence of previous industry with rusting metal and ruined buildings. Decay often seems to offer much more interest to me in terms of shapes and textures. The vegetation has taken hold in some areas which makes exploring the site seem like uncovering archaeology. There is also a desolate feel about the site, sadness about an industry now gone and a busy place returning to silence.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
The paper clay used gave me the ability to produce curved shapes that would have been difficult to manage using other materials. The iron paint works very well to make this look like rusted steel.
The method of construction was not thought through enough to provide enough stability for such a tall thin maquette. It stands, but I wouldn’t want to have to transport it!
The sculpture appears to work well on the site I have chosen for it (although my mock-up’s are not brilliant) and the patina compliments the form.
Design and Compositional Skills:
This maquette was planned using sketches more than I have done so previously, and I think benefits from this
Quality of Outcome
Stability is an issue for the maquette and the twist wasn’t as even as I had planned (although not necessarily in a bad way). Other than that I think the maquette is successful.
Demonstration of Creativity
Developed from an investigation of the quarry site and the possibilities it offered. Once the site was decided on, the idea came fairly fully formed and changed little in development
This maquette has some similarities to Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North, which was referenced in the course notes for this project. The obvious links are the rust colouration, the bolts/rivets holding it together and its upright standing form. Whilst my sculpture is more abstract, it does also share a corporal feeling, that of two sentries guarding the entrance to this site.
Despite the structural problems of building out of paper clay, I can’t think of a much better way to construct this maquette. I also can’t think of further ways to develop this sculpture. It is pleasing to construct a maquette and have it come out so close to how I envisaged!