This was a public commission for Cardiff Bay Partnership
5m (w) x 7m (d) 17m (h) approx
Cast iron herring gulls, over 3000 chunks of coke, stainless steel cables, various metal fixings
This permanent piece was commissioned by the Cardiff Bay Partnership for 3 Assembly Square, a new office development in Cardiff Bay.
Please scroll down to read the press release...
Text taken from press release:
The main catalyst for the transformation of Cardiff historically was the coal trade, and its importance in iron production and later the steel industry. Cardiff was the most important coal port in the world, and until the 1st World War up to 10 million tonnes of coal were exported annually. I was inspired by both the history of Cardiff and at the same the current positive changes that are occurring within the city.
The materials I use within my work are always important, and I find it difficult to ignore the inherent meanings of materials or objects. By this I mean that I do not like to use materials simply as a means through which to sculpt an idea, but for them to become an integral part of the potential meaning. For this reason I decided to use coal and iron as the main components for this work.
Given the harbour location and my ongoing use of animals and birds, I was immediately drawn to make some reference to gulls in my sculpture. Where there are animals within my work, they take on the role of animating larger, geometric forms, and for this piece seagulls will appear to be soaring upwards within suspended layers of coke.
The title of the work, Pressure Makes Diamonds, is a playful one: on a very simple level it could be linked with the coal trade through its reference to a different form of carbon, and metaphorically to the way in which the trade would have formed the beginnings of the city which Cardiff has become. It also refers to the geometric shapes within my work, which are relatively two-dimensional planes of carbon that take the form of skewed square or diamond shapes, drawing on the lines that are apparent within the architecture of the building.
At 3 Assembly Square I am creating a fairly linear piece which begins on the boundary between inside and outside, and moves inwards and upwards, utilising the full height of the atrium. Around 3,000 steel wires will hang vertically from the ceiling, stopping at a number of different levels within the space. On the end of each wire will be a small piece of coke - the type of dark grey coloured, refined coal that is used as the main fuel in iron-making blast furnaces. These pieces will be suspended at precise heights so that en masse they create 5 diamond shaped angular planes that are layered roughly each above the last. Two cast iron Herring Gulls will also be suspended within the atrium. These will animate the diamond shaped layers of coke, appearing to soar upwards, bursting through each layer in turn, disrupting the precision of the coke and creating a strong organic vertical presence within the atrium. Two more gulls will perch on the exterior entrance wall, forming a link between the sculpture within the building and the bay beyond.
By using materials that are fundamental to the history of the site, I hope to capture the attention of those who encounter the work and provoke further investigation into the concept behind the sculpture, rather than it being a purely decorative piece. In terms of what the work might say to people, upwards movement inevitably offers positive connotations, and birds in flight symbolise a similar type of optimism. The contrast between the apparently heavy materials and their unexpectedly delicate, fragile presentation is something that I hope will intrigue people and lead them to engage with and enjoy the work as they pass the space, regardless of their vantage point.