I was excited to visit the Art Fabrication team last week to see how my 7 metre long sculpture is developing as it moves in to it’s final phases of fabrication. It’s due to be installed on the side of one of Crest Nicholson’s new buildings at Centenary Quay in Southampton next month. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way the team have scaled up my 1:11 scale model of the sculpture. I was particularly pleased with the ‘waves’ of copper bar which undulate across the piece. These waves of metal will soon undulate down the side of a wall in Southampton, like a feisty perpendicular seascape. The piece developed out of months of exploration historic shipbuilding diagrams. I’ll show more of the background work at a later stage when the sculpture is installed, to show the whole journey from concept to finished piece.
There’s something fascinating about decay. Something about nature taking over that reminds us that there’s something more powerful than the perceived control we have over our everyday lives.
In Why we photograph, Robert Adams talks about “ the wonderful peculiarity that accrues from dilapidation; what we build gets differentiated as it comes apart - boards loosen to crazy angles, windowpanes fall out, and rain and snow streak white clapboards” p79
I’m not alone in my love of the derelict… “Strand, like Cartier Breton was attracted to the picturesque desolations and damages of urban life” Susan Sontag, On Photography p101. These photos of derelict London mansions in this Guardian article highlight this fine balance between order and chaos, 'Inside London's derelict mansions' article
One of my most inspirational trips was to Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, USA. The most wonderful thing is that the site hasn't been tidied up, cleaned, renovated.... which led to some fantastic photographs. There's a sense of authenticity with a site like this; it’s uncompromised, and this leads visitors to a deeper connection with the building.
All of this got me to thinking about the preservation of buildings. I came across an article written by Rowan Moore, about the difficulties of choosing which buildings to assign heritage status to. The article really highlights the challenge; how do we decide which buildings are culturally and historically significant? You can read Moore’s article here: Architectural heritage article