(Installation, Stoke, 2022) tyvek, carbon fibre rod.
I was commissioned by Urban Wilderness, embedded in Stoke, to create a temporary installation for the Longton area, which was sensitive to the current mood of the community, and wasn’t too focussed on the history of the potteries or romanticisation of the past.
I was struck by the omnipresence of buddleia in so many of the heritage buildings. It’s indomitable and insists in growing in the most difficult of places, like a symbol of hope for renewal even from seemingly impossible circumstances. It’s also very beautiful. However, it’s complex – it’s also a pest – there’s inevitably a battle between those trying to preserve the heritage buildings and the buddleia that keeps trying to reclaim it for nature. I think that’s an interesting metaphor for Stoke’s relationship with its own industrial heritage. Trying to find that line between conservation and pride in the past, and a vision for the future, without a blanket of nostalgia muffling that vision. A reverence to a past so set in aspic that it engenders stagnation. (Mixed metaphors, but you know what I mean… )
I work with cones as a customary part of my sculptural vocabulary. The tyvek looks like paper, and conveys a sense of fragility, and the white colour is a nod to pre-glazed porcelain. The street architecture fuses with the organic piece, as the installation crawls up the lamp post, climbing to the sky, to bounce above the heads of the people walking by. There is hopefully something joyful, pleasing, and absurd in this. Like the Buddleia, the piece is claiming the architecture, and together becoming something new.
Sorry I only have night pics – it was dark by the time I finished installing!