I’m travelling up north to Bolton this week to see the final units completed and hopefully sign off the work so it can be delivered to Rochester Riverside for installation. Can’t wait to see them all.
Above: “BLUE BOAR CREEK”…& other tales from Rochester Riverside. Detail of a water-jet cut & laser-etched paving panel in black Carlow Limestone with inset text of Amarelo Real (yellow granite) & Porphyry.
These new images are just in this afternoon thanks to Mathew Haslam of Hardscape – as their skilled stone specialists focus on the applied detail. Water jet cutting, inlaying, sandblasting and laser etching their way through 15 bespoke units destined to be embedded into the landscape of the new housing development at Rochester Riverside for client Countryside.This highly bespoke work needs to be handled with care and demands high levels of craft skills.
Hardscape have been excellent at providing this form creative collaboration. Public Art Strategy & Artists Commissions by FrancisKnight .
Below: This unit is 9 of 15 – ‘SHELDUCK’, a Kobra Green Granite base slab with water jet cut inset motif & text in black Carlow Limestone, which has been laser etched with surface detail. Further sandblasting of text into the green granite, will complete the work.
The image above is a detail of the beautifully carved ebony black polished stone 12th Century font, with its depiction of the miracles of St Nicholas. It is without doubt one of the Cathedral’s greatest treasures. It was brought from Tournai, in modern day Belgium. It has been in use ever since. It is astonishingly fresh and wonderful.
It isn’t too hard to find odd and quirky combinations of both mundane & exotic materials and examples of spectacular & naive decorative arts and crafts side by side in Winchester, especially in the Cathedral. Almost one thousand years of continual occupation of this religious site bears witness to an unbroken architectural legacy, one that is brimful of odd juxtapositions, exotic materials, renewed or replaced fabric, scratched graffiti, vandalism and destruction. Like walking through a time-warp. Robust Norman Romanesque Architecture to Perpendicular Gothic in one step. Swedish Marble to Purbeck Stone in another. Extant 13th Century inlaid ceramic floor tiles to 1960’s replicas. Striking thresholds crossed mixing time and material, yet the experience is not jarring or disjointed. Time itself has softened these transitions and blurred the edges.
I am continually cherry picking from the world around me, plucking at things, tucking things away for later – like a squirrel, gathering nuts for winter or in the manner of a herbivore, continually grazing, & chewing the cud. I am gathering visual information – an extraordinary cabinet of curiosity in my mind. Certain things catch my attention, whilst others pass me by. This eclectic meander is not a considered or deliberate creative manoeuvre. It is innate. It is my pattern of speech, it is my handwriting. It simply is.
SANDSTONE – FLINT – LIMESTONE – EBONY BLACK TOURNAI MARBLE – HAND MADE BRICK – OAK TIMBERS – INLAID CERAMIC TILES – MONOLITHIC GRANITE – CAST IRON – GUN METAL – CARVED OAK – STAINED GLASS – WINDOW TRACERY – LEAD
In August all was ready for the casting of the iron units and off I eagerly trotted on the train up to Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax to be present during a famous ‘Casting Thursday’! – I have been up to Hargreaves only once before and Andrew Knight, Foundry & Patternshop Manager showed me around the factory at that time. Even though this was impressive, (& it is !) it couldn’t match being present to witness my own work being cast. It is such a physical, visceral process, fully hands on and dangerous with it. The skill & craft is astonishing and it is this legacy of making, which Hargreaves has in bucketfuls, that I wanted to design into the public art work for Rochester.
Nine cast iron units have now been made, from 5 original cnc tooled patterns manufactured to my designs by Arthur Jackson & Co Ltd, Halifax. These patterns, cnc tooled from a type of resin block are used to prepare the resin sand mould boxes used in the final casting process. The cast units are then hand finished through grinding and polishing methods.
Individual one ton iron weights are used to secure the moulds during casting, such are the pressures of heat during the process. The moulds are constructed from a resin infused black sand, which has been compacted around the master pattern, which is then removed.
What I can’t convey here is the noise, heat, smell & excitement of this process during the critical stages of casting. The experience is vivid and visceral. I am watching something being made which could last for hundreds of years.
The units above and below have now been treated with Nitric Acid to prevent rusting through oxidation. The cast iron is almost black and the relief jumps out very cleanly.