Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Installed at Wareham...

'Old soldiers never die
They just fade away.'

'Celts at the Gates - Spears and Shield'
Mounted at Styl gallery in Elora - 2008

Over the years I have made many larger objects, most often as display samples. In the decades I was actively doing retail craft shows, I always tried to have one or two 'show' pieces. Any individual object had a fairly short exhibit life, generally about twice at a given annual event. This primarily to keep 'new work' on exhibit, but also a progression of quality and marking changes in evolving design and increasing scope.
As display pieces, many of these works never were sold, most especially as the individual objects became more complex, hence more expensive. I certainly found there was a 'break' point there, over a certain value, people wanted an original, one of a kind design, with input from their own taste - not so much 'off the floor' work.

'Spears and Shield' at Wareham

The raw size of many of these larger objects, gates, grills, fountains and arbors, also meant that the raw mechanics of repeated loading and unloading, hauling around and setting up, with long storage in the (unheated!) workshop took it's toll. Those pieces loaned out for possible commission sales were mostly mounted out of doors. As strong (if heavy) as forged steel is, the main damage was to painted surfaces. The enamel paint which is my basic finish is durable, but over time any paint will start to show its age when exposed to the elements.

'Celts at the Gates - Spears and Shield' is a much older work, originally designed and made in 2000.  At the time I had been considering a series of larger garden gates, with designs derived from ancient Celtic Iron Age / La Tene artifacts. The central spiral lines here were suggested by the 'Battersea Shield'. This was also one of my early uses of brightly coloured paint - instead of the 'flat black' so commonly used as a protective finish. You can see that in the gate's original configuration, it had a cut brass panel, which in turn held a large glass disk. I was never completely happy with the relatively thin brass, compared to the solidity of the wide forged curves.

The gate was re-worked and a second narrower matching panel created to fit the display space at Styl when it was loaned there in 2008. I was extremely pleased with the expanded version of the gate. So much so I submitted a number of images of it to the survey volume 'Ironwork Today 2' - where it was featured in a double page spread.
(There detailed descriptions of both versions this gate on the web site.)

Styl was closed in 2018 (the building in Elora was sold, the space converted into a pub restaurant). I made sure that the ownership of not only 'Spears and Shield', but also the two panels of 'Paris Metro' also on loan there were not to be considered part of the 'building and fixtures' to be included in that sale.

After a decade outside in the weather, both pieces were well past 'new'. As I had pretty much stopped any retail shows by 2016, I most certainly had no place to exhibit them. Their fate was to join a growing pile of larger pieces, pushed into corners around the Wareham Forge workshop or where space could be found for them.

Added to this were the very large sculptures made for the Elora Sculpture Project, one each year since 2013. (1) Of these happily one was purchased (Armoured Fish from 2015). This leaves me with a lot of large sculptures now being dotted around the front yard!

The final stages of the new replacement and large expansion to the second story deck off the residence at Wareham does give me someplace better to mount these older works - than some dusty and dark corner of the workshop.

South side of the Residence, with the new stairs

Seen in the image above, working clockwise from the top:

A) Man's Inhumanity to Man - 2020 (description pending)

B) Paris Metro (two panels) - 2006 (on the web site)

C) Green Grass / Autumn Grass Arbor - 2005 / 2015 (on the web site)

D) Shield and Spears - 2000 / 2008 (links above)

E) Sample for Riverdale House - 2007 (on the web site)

Green Grass Arbor was the re-painting of the older version (Autumn Grass, originally dark brown with yellows) done in 2018. It had been stored inside and wrapped up until this current mounting about two months back. I still have some hopes I can display this at a local garden plant operation against a possible commission sale.

My normal practice on large architectural commissions is to make a small sample piece. (The reasons why related to ensuring the customer sees how drawings convert to real life - and to illustrate detailing and quality.) (2) This roughly three foot long panel was such a sample. (Although as it turned out, the customer chose an entirely different design!)
Right now I have also mounted another smaller sample panel at the other end of the upper deck (awaiting work on a second stair case and a possible cantilevered additional deck level).

Overall - it just seemed stupid to have all these pieces, some of of which I am quite proud of, just wasting away in storage.

1) All detailed other places on this blog : search 'Elora Sculpture Project' for many detailed descriptions of both the design and making of each.

2) See a fuller description of how I normally work on a major commission in the section 'On Design'

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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