Preview Of New Centenary Sculpture For Stoke-on-Trent

A miniature of the Stoke-on-Trent City Council-commissioned artwork, which depicts two intertwining figures shrouded in light, will be shown at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, at 2pm today (Thursday 16 September). The miniature, which is one foot high, will then be displayed in the museum for visitors to see.

Councillor Hazel Lyth and artist David Annand will be on hand to launch the miniature version of the sculpture this afternoon.

The sculpture itself, which will stand five metres high will be installed in front of the museum outside the main entrance to the museum at the end of October. It will feature two textured, cast bronze figures standing back-to-back on a stainless steel hexagonal pedestal. The female figure will hold a chalice, representing the Staffordshire Hoard ““ the largest and most valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered, which is on display at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. The chalice is also a light source which will house an LED beam which will be directed upwards to a plate held by the male figure. The plate will act as a reflector, casting the light source down and washing over the entire artwork and surrounding area.

This is the first chance to see what the finished sculpture will look like, and it is very exciting. The design and construction of the artwork has taken months of skilled and detailed production. The sculpture is a very fitting way to mark the centenary of the federation of the city’s six towns, and will be a lasting landmark for future generations to see. We can’t wait to have the final article installed for residents and visitors to our city to enjoy, and hope this miniature version whets the appetite for what is to come.

Light Source By David Annand Chosen As Stoke-on-Trent Centenary Sculpture

Following an exhibition at the city’s museum where residents were encouraged to highlight their favourite design a judging panel of experts has picked Light Source to mark the centenary occasion.

The design by artist David Annand depicts a figure holding a disc above his head with a light beam travelling through it. Hundreds of residents took part in the survey to find the city’s favourite design and whittled the four options down to two possible sculptures ““ Light Source and regeneration. A judging panel of experts then selected Light Source to mark the centenary occasion. The winning design will now be finalised following comments made from members of the public which the judging panel are keen to have incorporated in to the final design.

Councillor Hazel Lyth said, ‘The centenary of the federation of the six towns is a momentous occasion for Stoke-on-Trent. It is great to see that so many people have taken the time to make their opinions heard. The judging panel was keen to get people’s views on the four possible designs as it only seems fitting that the people who make this city what it is today should chose the piece of art they would like to mark the occasion.’

Hazel continued, ‘it is fantastic to see that the people of Stoke-on-Trent have taken the time to help chose the piece of public art which will celebrate the city.’

The final design will now be produced and then work will get underway constructing the sculpture in October.

Your Vote For New Public Art To Celebrate The Stoke-on-Trent Centenary

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has commissioned a sculpture to celebrate the city’s centenary and is asking city communities to unite in choosing their favourite design and residents are being asked to vote to help choose which piece will be commissioned.

The 4 designs will go on display at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery from 1000 tomorrow (Fri 4 June) and residents will have until 11 June to vote on which one they prefer.

The sculpture is being designed by David Annand, who has produced public art sculptures across the country. For the past few months David has been working with community groups across the city to find out what people would like to see to mark the centenary of the six towns. The ideas and suggestions given in focus groups with schools and residents associations have helped to form the four possible options for the sculpture.

Councillor Hazel Lyth, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for adult social care, sport, leisure and culture, said, ‘We wanted to create a piece of public art to mark the momentous centenary year. It only seems fitting that as the piece of art is celebrating 100 years of the city coming together that it is the people who make this city what it is today that should chose the piece of art they would like to mark the occasion. The sculpture is on a prominent gateway in to the city centre and we want the design to reflect the wishes of the city. I urge as many people as possible to get involved and to make your vote count.’

A decision on the final design is expected by mid June with the sculpture being created outside the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in October.

Residents have until Friday June 11 to cast their vote on touch screen survey machines in the museum or via email at communications@stoke.gov.uk.

You can also vote directly on the Council website using the link below.

The Potteries Pyramid

By Pits n Pots Contributor

I’ve been working on photographing all of the sculpture in Stoke on Trent and on my journey, I’ve been talking to the Sculptors involved. Ondre Nowakowski saw my work of his sculpture “A man can’t fly”. So he asked me if I’d go and see if I could photograph his new-ish sculpture in Goldendale East in Tunstall.

So with a buzz in the air and a lot of optimism, I grabbed a mate and off we went to find the Potteries Pyramid.

As you’ll see, when we got there, I was gutted, disappointed but most of all outraged at the state of the site and the lack of care by the council to make this sculpture enjoyable.

What I mean is… first of all, you can’t find it. There’s hardly any info online… no links or decent  directions from the Stoke on Trent council website and a really misleading digital image of the pyramid, which shows the pyramid surrounded by trees and looking lovely.

Check out this link before you watch my videos.  Stoke-on-Trent City Council page about the Potteries Pyramid

When I got to the Potteries Pyramid (which I only found because I really know my way around Stoke) I found no signs to show where it is. To access the site, we were lucky to spot a gap in the trees (purely by accident) which is on a mental bend in the road and you have to play chicken to cross the carriageway in a car; if you’re coming from Reginald Mitchell Way. Then as we tried to drive into the site, we were faced with a huge mound of earth which had obviously been placed there to stop access.

It looks as if someone has been using the site as a dumping ground.

Anyway… My issue is with the council for not taking the necessary care and attention to make this site both enjoyable and safe. A simple steel barrier allowing only access to small vehicles, would have stopped any larger vehicles such as vans  from entering the site. An area for parking would have been nice as you really do need a car to get to the site, unless you’re local and walking. Seats around the pyramid and grass underneath the Potteries Pyramid would have made the environment much more pleasant. We could have sat or as I would have liked to do… lie under the pyramid and contemplate life, the sky and the sculpture itself but no seats, no trees and no grass.

The lights which are supposed to make the sculpture visable at night have been damaged and this I put down to bad design. Surely we can create some kind of tamper proof lighting system. Maybe even solar powered, lets think about LED’s even. The point is all this damage and lack of repair looks terrible to outsiders and even me and I live here but if you’re going to spend loads of tax payers cash on art and design, then look after it and celebrate it. Landscape it properly and then use it as an attraction. It’s as if it’s been plonked and forgotten about. How can schools visit and teach kids to respect their environment. People need to understand that art can be extremely rewarding if used in the right way but if they see a mess like that, then it’s no wonder people say there is no culture in stoke and moan about the cost.

It doesn’t take much thought to get these things right. In my travels around Stoke on Trent looking for these sculptures, I found no information on any of the creators of the sculptures or information on what the sculptures are about. I’m visually trained, so I work out a lot of these things just by looking but I know how to read visual art and being an artist myself, I probably appreciate these things on a deeper level. We have to educate to help understanding.

How can we encourage the everyday people of Stoke to appreciate what art can do for our environment and our experience of life, if when we see a work of art, there is no explanation to help us to understand why and what it’s all about? One perfect example is David Wynne’s sculpture “The Man of Fire” aka Jack Frost or the Spikey Man (as it’s known locally) in Hanley city centre (more on that soon). It’s almost a national treasure as English Heritage are trying to get the sculpture listed. It was installed around 1963 and it must have been mind blowing. It was a brushed shiny metal when it was installed and it shone in the sunlight like an angel descending from the heavens. When I saw it for the first time as a child, it blew my mind. I was both scared and fascinated at the same time. I thought it’d fall on me but I still dragged my mum into the road to get a closer look… I was only five years old but I believe it was the pivotal moment in my artistic life. Now I’ve recently been in talks with David who is now 82 years old and a massive name in sculptural circles and known throughout the world as a fantastic sculptor.

But again the other day I had a conversation with an artistic friend who said “what sculpture?” I was amazed that this work, which is about 40 ft tall and hangs off the side of the Potteries shopping centre in Hanley, went unnoticed by someone who is so into their art. Again there is no information to share with the public to help them to enjoy this ground breaking sculpture. It was the equivalent to “The Angel of the North” of it’s time and now people from all over the world, travel to see David’s sculptures. Some people don’t even know where it is because they’ve never looked up. Think back and imagine what it must have felt like in the sixties, when this huge, shiny, spikey, massive man first appeared and shone like a god in the street. I’ve found one image of it online in its early days and I’ll try to find it again to show you all. The importance of what this sculptural project meant at the time is the true message of my rant. Back then in 1963 we had some council folk who believed in creating the right image. It must have drawn in hundreds of visitors and now most people are not even aware of it’s existance. It needs cleaning, lighting and we need to tell people all about it… Somehow I think we could light it with solar powered LED’s (soz but it’s my new thing) and I think I know how to but need help from lens and led manufacturers and of course the council. I’m more than happy to help. I’ve been involved in lighting and photography for 20 years so I know a thing or two about light.

As I said before, there seems to be very little information and most of it is old or boring… I will be changing that soon, as I’m going to put my images up on culturing stuff and hopefully bridge this gap… Unless of course the council would like to fix this?

My aim is to make this site a beacon for good practice and care in Stoke on Trent. One of our football teams is now in the top flight football league and if you’ve noticed, Stoke on Trent is now on the local news and more importantly, the national news almost everyday. There is lots of culture in Stoke so lets show it… I’ve got loads of stuff to show you but I’m just one man and I need your help.

We have only one chance to make a great impression. Many people will now come to visit Stoke on Trent and when they get here, it’s a mess.

Be sure that over the next few months I will be showing what is both right and wrong about this wonderful place I call home… I’m fiercely proud to be a Stokie and Stoke on Trent is a wonderful place to live and grow up. I know I was born here and then left for thirteen years to find some culture and returned because I missed the people. Why did I ever leave?

Because my environment stifled me and never helped me to express myself creatively. Insanely I spent most of my childhood in two of our city’s best theatres but still, as I grew older and I craved more creative stimulus, I felt I needed to go to other places and cities to find this. Now I realise that there is lots of culture here in Stoke, just most of it is not being supported or represented and communicated well.

I hope I don’t have to write or film anything as damning as this piece again.

I’m now contacting Ondre, the council and the Sentinel newspaper and let’s see if things start to change.

Feel free to share your thoughts… that what this site is all about.

Putting the pride back into Stoke and getting rid of bad business and bad service.

here’s the vids

Sorry but in the second vid I use two mild swear words, which I apologise for now. It was just my frustration spilling out.

best to press play then pause and let the films load and then they wont keep stopping…  they’re worth watching in their entirety.

One month later I returned to see if the mess had been cleaned up. It had not and I suspect it is still a mess.

The council do know about this mess becuase they must have arranged the big mound of earth to be put in place.

Update March 12th 2009…

Been emailing the council to try to find out who is responsible for this project.

To date I have recieved this reply from a council spokesman.

“”Hi Maffi, thanks for your email and explanation. Having looked into this, I’m
told plans for landscaping works have been submitted, and subject to approval,
will start in April/May over a likely 10-week period. This would obviously help
tidy the site and improve its appearance. The area in which the sculpture is
set, Goldendale East, is part of the Chatterley Valley Development, which is
bringing funds from Advantage West Midlands and will lead to mixed industrial
and business uses to the area. The Goldendale East site will be enhanced as a public park as a result of the development. There is clearly a lot of good work still to take place in the area, I would be grateful if you could reflect this in your piece. If you wish to quote from the above, please attribute to a council spokesman. The Potteries Pyramid cost £92k to install and will cost £18k to maintain.”

As a response to that which was sent above, I replied…

“Can I assume from your previous email, that the site of the potteries pyramid is likely to remain in the state it’s in until April/May?

I will try to be kind but it’s difficult, considering that if the site were a council house garden for example, the council would be hot on anyone’s heels to clean up, if the shoe were on the other foot.

Please excuse the puns. Totally unintentional.

I’ll do my best to represent the council fairly.”

As I’m sure you’re aware I do try to represent fairly… just look how many great sculpture pics are already on culturing stuff and when they look good I celebrate

Update 17th March 2009

Today we received this email from our council spokesperson: “Plans have been submitted for the site of the Potteries Pyramid, and these are now passing through the planning process. A decision is expected by April/May. We are aware that the site is in need of attention to clear away rubbish. Travellers had previously stayed on the site. Council teams have already removed items including a three-piece suite, general household waste and tyres.The remaining rubbish contains both asbestos and human waste, and so it has been necessary to obtain quotes from registered contractors to undertake the clearance work. Once a contractor has been chosen, funding streams will be identified to finance the removal.”

At which I asked “If there is asbestos and human waste on the site? Why has the area NOT been sealed off to protect the public?”

As a friend commented today… “it’s like a meeting about a meeting…” We await their reply.

Pits ‘n’ Pots would like to thank Maffi from Culturing Stuff for allowing us to use this article and we look forward to the updates.