As ever, my life has been hectic with things related to my business, the studio and of course home life – I knew I hadn’t written a blog post for a while; well Christmas was the last one I remembered. What I hadn’t realised was that I never posted anything about the second Metal Ages sculpture, and that was well, AGES ago!
Back at the end of September, we finally got the opportunity to install the final sculpture at Erewash Museum in Ilkeston. I say ‘we’ – that would be me with the camera and occasionally passing a drill or screwdriver, and Gavin & Mark doing the lifting, carrying, digging, drilling….
This one is a rather large sculpture. It’s over two metres high, and about two and a half metres wide. It is made up of 7,000 nuts, which represents the size of the workforce when Stanton Ironworks was in it’s heyday. It has four ‘vines’ growing from the ground, which represent the four main foundries that could be found in the Ilkeston area back in the 1900’s. Across the middle is a shank, used for pouring molten metal in a foundry. The centre of this holds a glass disk, which like the ‘Old Men & Pipes‘ sculpture at King George Gallery is inspired by the ‘fire in the sky’ that was ever present when Stanton was a busy place, and also representing new beginnings.
Those of you who know me personally will know that there’s been quite a lot of stuff going on in my personal life lately (that may be a bit of an understatement), which has prevented me from spending much time in the studio or on projects.But, as the Metal Age project is on a deadline, I’ve had to pick up the ball again get stuck in.I managed to get along to another one of the Walking for Health sessions, although I didn’t take any photos on the last one, it was far too cold to take the gloves off! And couple of Saturdays ago, we ran the glass inclusions workshop at the Erewash Musuem, it was the first sunny day of the year so we didn’t get lots and lots of visitors – I think people were taking advantage of the first chance to get in the garden. We met a friendly family, where grandad, like a lot of people in Ilkeston, had worked at Stanton at one time; it was great, he had a lot of stories to tell.Gavin and I are now working on the plans for the two sculptures, and for what else will be going in the exhibition. We’ve also been planning the next workshops at King George Gallery in March – we will be working with students from local schools and colleges in the day, and having open drop-in sessions on the Tuesday evenings.I’m still playing catch up, so this is a bit of a post-and-run, but I thought I would show you a few photographs of our site visit – current owners, St Gobain, allowed us access to locked up buildings and the old Stanhope Plant – it was fascinating.I took this photograph after Gavin commented that if you looked down at (extremely thick) layer of black dust on the floor, it was undisturbed apart from our footprints. It was like virgin snow….
Black Virgin SnowSomething fascinated me about the chains and hooks that we found lying in trolleys around the place. Not sure this conveys the sheer scale of everything (giant light bulbs, giant oil cans, giant sack trolleys – I felt like one of the Borrowers at times!) – I just liked the pattern of this one: Dusty Chains
And this last photograph, was just a poignant reminder of the busy times that were once Stanton Ironworks – obviously a countdown until the last day in May 2007, that the last pipe rolled out of the plant – it was written on the inside of the one of the maintenance teams lockers.
The Last Post
Well, I should start this post by wishing you a happy new year!
Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been kinda busy. During December, I was really busy with the Erewash Festival of Light. I did lots of workshops in primary schools in the area; I made over 90 decorations for the young ones to decorate, and then I also prepared and helped design/decorate over 185 glass jar lanterns. That’s 185 jars to wash and de-label. 185 names to ensure written on. 185 cable ties to check tight and trim. 185 lengths of twist tie to cut… and a LOT of tissue paper, tracing paper and glass marker pens to prepare. I must have sounded like some raging alcholic every time I went anywhere with my bags of glass, clinking away…. cheers!
So, that, and a little thing called Christmas was how I saw the tail end of 2012. But new year, new project, and I am now moving on to the Metal Ages. This is part of a the two year long Excite Inspire Engage Erewash; inspired by local heritage, and supported by Arts Council England and Erewash Partnership, it will explore different art forms with a series of workshops and exhibitions.
I am collaborating with another Ilkeston based artist, Gavin Darby of Frailloop a sculptor who describes himself as “I am Gavin and I weld things”. Take a look at his website, you will see that in fact, he is so much more – he creates fabulous sculptures which are full of character from bits from cars, machinery and so on. As well as the workshops we’re going to be running, which will involve both metal and glass technniques, casting and bridge building, we are working towards producing two sculptures that will live permanently, one at the King George Gallery and another at Erewash Museum.
We recently took a visit to Magna, a former steel foundry in Rotheram, and will be looking at the former Stanton Ironworks site, Bennerly Viaduct, manhole covers and generally looking at the former thriving steel and iron industry that once was in the Erewash area.
I was really sensible when I sorted my camera out to take with me on the Magna visit. Put in new batteries, and recharged not one, but two spare sets. Feeling smug, knowing I wasn’t going to run out of ‘fire power’ I get out my camera, to find it said memory full… so all I could get was a few snaps on the iPhone…. ah well, I have my (metal) memories…