A Sculpture

Foundry Statue Morrisons CloseThis above sculpture may or may not be particularly noteworthy to you.

But the location may be. It is for me. For it is situated on a traffic roundabout, and not even a particularly busy traffic roundabout rather one that is mostly passed by shoppers on their way to and from a grocery supermarket, or to get their vehicles filled up with petrol or diesel, or even washed.

Sculpture MorrisonsOn the other hand perhaps it is a good way of this sculpture getting attention to itself as likely most shoppers are creatures of habit and will be passing by this roundabout and thus sculpture on a regular and frequent basis. At some point their curiosity must get the better of them, even the most resolutely art-unimpressed of them, to wander over from their parked vehicles and take a look at it? Certainly this was the case with me.

I thought it fitting to take round about pictures of this roundabout sculpture! Here’s another one.

Morrison's Supermarket Sculpture I took these photos on 12.12.12 but I am making no significance of that – am not going to tag this post so and attract ‘those types’ to my blog! – but you can see it was a frosty winter-day and it gave an added other-worldly dimension to the setting I felt.

At first I tried to get pictures without traffic but traffic proved to be quite persistent in that regard – who would have thought in the middle of the day outside a supermarket carpark! – and in the end relented thinking the pictures are more realistic with the presence of a constant stream of traffic. Though perhaps the presence of a strange man at that time of the day taking photographs of said sculpture triggered their interest and attention much more than the sculpture would have otherwise done!

Sculpture Morrisons Car WashI did not just want to photograph and share it with you though, I wanted to find out more details about it and its creator/s hopefully by way of a plaque – but as I closed up on it there was  no plaque to be discovered – a sculpture with no name and no sculptor giving their name to it, this only piqued my interest more.

Morrisons Sculpture Close Up

I could see that it was representing a foundry with an industrial type bucket pouring molten steel – its usual industrial process diverted from railway switches and crossings instead suspended in time and motion. So perhaps this was the site of a previous industry on this now retail space?

I say retail space as the plan is to extend into a retail park – currently though it is just that supermarket and a drive-by fast food chain (Okay McDonalds, which aside I learn is the third busiest branch in the UK – we are but a smallish town of thirty or so thousand so what does that say about our health!) but there is an area of land nearby fenced off with hoarding waiting for new tenants and it is named the Foundry Retail Park.

This would be my next move to check out their business site and see if they had any further details as to this work.

What I should add is that this supermarket – admire how I am steadfastly not naming it remaining commercially pure despite it being quite clear from the photographs to any of you familiar with it or indeed not familiar with it seeing as the name appears in a few of the photos! – only opened last year, 2011, and the sculpture followed shortly after.

The developers of this land are known as Carillon-Richardson (two separate companies in a business marriage) but the details they provide are sketchy – literally! – including plans and work-in-progress photos of the supermarket build but which then terminate unfinished in July 2011.

Carillon Richardson Bathgate Development Aerial Shot

I then discovered a website for a graphic design consultancy To The Point who are responsible for the branding for this retail park and in a blog post of September 27 they detail that the site is indeed built upon the site of an old foundry – Balbardie Steel Foundry.

This foundry having many owners the latter being  Balfour Beatty and was closed in 2009 according to the website of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland which includes 72 digital images of the site including this!

RCAHMS digital photography View of sculpture alongside public path of line of dismantled railway with back view of foundry buildings from south. DP053459 Copyright RCAHMS

RCAHMS digital photography View of sculpture alongside public path of line of dismantled railway with back view of foundry buildings from south. DP053459 Copyright RCAHMS

The sculpture had a previous life, but was this life its first life?

And still no details of its provenance. By the way if you like photographs of derelict industrial spaces (as I do!) then there are many colour and black-and-white photographs to feast yourselves upon in this collection including another of this sculpture but that is just it, it keeps being referred to generically as a ‘sculpture’.

I did discover that the steelworks itself was originally opened in 1907 so spanned a full-century before being laid-to-rest (business actually relocated to nearby Queensferry) and there is much detail of its history and main industries undertaken, but no reference to the sculpture. The mystery remains. But in these Internet times there can be no mysteries, can there?!

Keech Furnace Technologies

KFC Foundry Website Images

Well the web did allow me to establish that a South African company Keech Furnace Technology had this listed as one of their previous works as Balbardie Steel Foundry Germiston. Known by their abbreviation, KFT specialise in the design, production and service of electric arc furnaces. They were founded in 1978 so could they have undertaken this sculpture? If so there is no detail on their website.

Credit to the supermarket whose sculpture this sits in front of, okay I relent, Morrisons!, who have commissioned a number of statues situated in front of their other stores such as the two featured below. The first for a Tyneside store, the second a Leyland store.

Jarrow Crusade by Graham Ibbeson

Jarrow Crusade by Graham Ibbeson

Leyland Motors Sculpture

Leyland Motors Sculpture by Stephen Charnock

They though both have information, about their work and their creators.

The sculpture the star of this post remains though a mystery, to me and it seems to the Internet.

To you?

Foundry Sculpture Bathgate

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Gordon Young – Nice to See You

Gordon Young - Comedy Carpet

Gordon Young Typographic Trees

Typographic Trees, Crawley Library

British artist Gordon Young’s latest work The Comedy Carpet, Blackpool is currently featured on My Modern Met.

On his website Gordon Young describes himself as ‘a visual artist who focuses on creating art for the public domain’.

He styles his work as projects with his first such project dating back to 1992, ‘The Fish Pavement, Hull’. His works cover public spaces the length and breadth of Great Britain.

Most of his work is sculpture along with rather singularly typographic pavements.

Another Lancashire town, Morecambe, is especially favoured, including one project on their most famous son who made the town his stage-name, Eric Morecambe, with the Eric Morecambe Memorial Area, a work which included a statue of him by Graham Ibbeson along with steps in homage to those on the Morecambe and Wise show, where their jokes and catch-phrases are written into the steps. A public space that allows a much-loved comedian’s work to live on and perhaps inspire some of its younger visitors to go and look them up on YouTube…

Gordon Young has won numerous awards for his work and appeared in many publications.

What then is the Comedy Carpet? It is made up of three-hundred granite slabs towards constructing a giant board-walk on the Blackpool water-front – like the Eric Morecambe memorial this includes jokes, catchphrases and punchlines etched in to it, but this time from a thousand British comedians – I have visions of pub-teams making vigils to see how many of the thousand they can name!

One of the most visible quotes ‘Nice to See You’ is very apt and was first used in the 1970’s by the recently knighted Bruce Forsyth on the BBC game-show The Generation Game.

Gordon Young The Comedy Carpet

The Comedy Carpet

The Generation Game is now long gone but Bruce Forsyth is still very much with us – he now compères Strictly Come Dancing – as is the catch-phrase.

Gordon Young’s website is yet to provide full details of his Comedy Carpet Project but the aforementioned My Modern Met article provides more information. Even better if you live within travelling distance of Blackpool then pop along and experience in person. I am certain it will be much-photographed though the best shots perhaps will be aerial, such as from a nearby fairground attraction – not a roller-coaster but maybe a more sedentary Ferris-wheel!

His website does though provide fuller details of all his previous projects.

I end this post with photographs of some of them.

Gordon Watson Wall of Wishes

Wall of Wishes, 2007, Bristol Brunel Academy

Gordon Young Climbing Towers and Boulder Wall

Climbing Towers and Boulder Wall, Blackpool, 2006

Gordon Young Burns Steps

Burns Steps, Ayr, 1998