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.
If there’s an award for bad blogger of the year, I think I would certainly be in the running!There’s been so much going off. In March, Gavin and myself did some workshops in schools – this produced some fantastic work, including glass, metal embossing and casting – hopefully I can show you some of the work at a later point. Who cares about chronological order?I managed to get a few more sessions in at university doing photograms, and I was very sad when this came to an end – I feel like I’ve still got so much more to explore, but I need access to the darkrooms to be able to develop (hahaha) this further. Do you think they’d notice if I just wandered in…. we’ve got the AA2A exhibition soon, I have to be ready by the end of next week.We held the spring Open Studios at Shed 2 as part of Derbyshire Open Arts. I managed to squeeze in a visit to Chelsea 100th Flower Show to help Rachel Carter – unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of chance to look round as it rained. And rained again. And rained some more. You get the idea.However, I was very excited last week that we were able to install the first Metal Ages sculpture at the King George Gallery. That’s the Royal “we” – as in Gavin and his builder dug holes, heaved the thing around, and poured in post-crete, whilst I stood on the side-lines saying left a bit, right a bit and taking photographs.I think it looks amazing. I love the combination of new glass and old metal. I love what Gavin has done with the found objects from the Stanton site, combined with donated tools from our walks and meets we did way back in February and March.Anyway, here it is – the second sculpture should be installed fairly soon, more on that later!An overview – slightly over exposed, but had to show you the beautiful settings:
The beautiful King George Gallery building My glass element Found metal objects from Stanton Ironworks Donated tools from former workers The glass set into the Stanton Arrow “OLD MEN & PIPES”
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
Last Saturday saw the first workshop from myself and Gavid Darby as part of The Metal Age project. We spent a day at Erewash Museum in Ilkeston hoping to talk to people about working in the local steel industry or memories of railways, etc.
Gavin had a go at doing some manhole rubbings, which was a bit too cold to brave for my liking, so I stayed indoors and invited people to “Design Your Own Manhole Cover”.
After sharing a few images of some of the amazing manhole cover designs that you can see, as well as the more mundane, and of course a few of the very prolific Stanton Ironworks designs ( (there’s another blog post I can write already), I gave visitors a template and we made a few of our own designs.
Here’s a few that were made on the day; it’s a fun method that’s not too difficult to learn – the key is in finding the right tools to emboss with really! We advertised it as being suitable for all ages, and a couple of the designs here were done by younger children, as well as adults (who seemed to enjoy it as much as the kids!).
The technique has inspired me to hopefully produce a larger piece that if it turns out well, could feature in the Metal Age Exhibition.