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Elizabeth Landmark Press Articles

Tags: Press, Public Commission

31st August

The news that my design for the Elizabeth Landmark has won the commission, has been kicking up some excitement in the press. Here's a couple for starters...
Please click on the bold link to read.

Simon Hitchens   Elizabeth Landmark press

Artnet news


Newcastle Chronicle

The Chronicle

Major British Landmark Sculpture

Tags: Public Commission, Outdoor Sculpture, Public Space, Press

29th August

I am thrilled to announce that I have won a major public sculpture commission to be sited in the raw beauty of Northumberland. This 55 metre contemporary sculpture celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's service to country and her life-long dedication to The Commonwealth.

Simon Hitchens - Elizabeth Landmark sculpture - car park view

The Elizabeth Landmark will become a new cultural destination on the Ray Estate and in the north of England, benefiting the local community and economy by being a catalyst for regeneration.

Simon Hitchens - Elizabeth Landmark sculpture - zoom

Made from Corten weathering steel, this elevated slice of hillside has been inspired by the rugged and undulating landscape in which it sits. The elegant and robustly engineered aerodynamic form references the rich history of local iron ore and stone mining. Lateral fins which change in pitch and frequency as they rise up the sculpture accentuate the sense of perspective and movement, creating contrasting shadows along its 85 metre length.

Simon Hitchens - Elizabeth Landmark sculpture - Rock Slot

Directly shaped by the topography of the hill, the delicately arched form would completely disappear if placed back into the hill beneath. The carved space left in the hillside below, which has given rise to the positive sculpture above, forms a canyon-like rock slot. To walk this from end to end will be to experience the geology of the local landscape: a walk through Deep Time itself.

Simon Hitchens - Elizabeth landmark sculpture - Concept Sketch

The specific topography of Cold Law hill in Northumberland has directly informed not just the sculpture and the rock slot, but also the circumnavigating system of paths, which allow ever changing perspectives of the sculpture whilst walking around it. Like a reverse giant gnomon of a sundial, the sculpture points directly to the sun at its zenith on Midsummer’s day.

Simon Hitchens studio portrait 2

"To have the opportunity to design a landmark sculpture to be placed in this raw and beautiful landscape is undoubtedly a privilege and a challenge that I wholeheartedly relish. The success of the sculpture will grow from a sensitivity to land and place: born in form, material and presence from the majestic geography that supports it."


Major New Landmark Sculpture

Tags: Public Commission

Wednesday 3rd May

I am delighted to be able to announce that I am shortlisted for a major landmark sculpture to be sited in the raw beauty of Northumberland.

The form, materials and siting of this landmark sculpture have been inspired by the rugged and undulating landscape in which it sits. Made from robust weathering steel, this elevated slice of hillside has the elegance of an aerodynamic form and references the rich history of local iron ore mining. Lateral fins which change in pitch, size and frequency catch the sun, creating shadows and a sense of perspective and movement. Take a unique walk into the Northumbrian landscape by entering Cold Law hill itself, viewing geological time as the carboniferous sandstone bedrock rises above you and then find respite at the hilltop shelter.

For more information about the commission, its timeline, inspiration etc. please click here.

1. Landmark sculpture  main view
2. Landmark sculpture  Rock Slot
3. Landmark sculpture  main view zoom
4. Concept drawing

The Space Between a Space: wrapped, unwrapped, wrapped

Tags: Public Commission, Outdoor Sculpture, Public Space

24th November 2015:
Yesterday I managed take some images of the sculpture The Space Between, which I installed in May. Sited in Reading, just along the road from the mainline rail station and opposite Forbury Park, it is the welcoming landmark sculpture at the entrance to Forbury Place: a striking new office space delivered by M&G Real Estate. After installing the sculpture on a wet day in May, the surrounding groundwork, cabling and surface finishes to the public realm had to be completed which is why I waited until yesterday to take images of the finished work. For all this time the sculpture has remained wrapped, protected from the possibility of knocks and bumps. Now it is wrapped again, because work is starting on the second building which is due for completion in 2017.

I'm thrilled with the strong visual link between sculpture and building, and am eager to see it again without wrapping, fencing, and with people sitting around it. For the full background story of its making click on the Public Commission tag on this page and scroll through six news posts about the project, or take a look at the public commissions page in this website, or testimonials.


How to Make a Desk: from Penmaenmawr to Piccadilly

Tags: Public Commission, Studio Practice, Indoor Sculpture, Private Commission

20 October 2015:
Today saw the opening of 21 Glasshouse Street, Piccadilly. This, together with 7 Air Street next door, is the latest transformation of the Regent Street public realm, owned by The Crown Estate. As a state of the art new office space, 21 Glasshouse Street required a significant and appropriate reception desk that is both unique and responsive to its location. Working in collaboration with designers Barr Gazetas, I opened up the idea of the responsive nature in the design, to source a boulder from a quarry owned by The Crown Estate. The concept was an exciting one and the journey of its making was, you could say, made for me but the challenge lay in sourcing the 'right' rock.

This was not an easy task as most dimensional stone quarries throughout the British Isles have now closed down, a casualty of cheaper foreign imports and changes in current building styles and materials. The rock itself is still in the ground, a latent reminder of Britain's proud and historic building materials as well as its varied geological make up. After searching the four corners of Britain, I finally sourced a suitable boulder at an aggregate quarry in North Wales. Actually, I almost didn't pay it a visit because I knew that aggregate quarries blast their material from the rock face, fracturing the boulders with internally hidden cracks. However, when I made that first visit to the top of the ancient quarry (Neolithic axe heads have been found in one section of the quarry) it was pretty clear that this was the right boulder, patiently waiting for me to come me along. In fact, the quarry couldn't move it to be crushed, as it weighed an estimated thirty tonnes.

Below is a set of images which take you through the making of the desk. From the wind swept mountain top at Penmaenmawr in North Wales where I drilled a split the boulder in two, to Fyfe Glenrock in Aberdeenshire where it was sawn and drilled to millimetre accuracy, tacking on the required dimensions of a fully functioning reception desk. Down to my Somerset studio where I cut, shaped, chiseled, ground and polished the finer details, and attached the necessary computer support structure. And finally up to London, where it took a team of six men to delicately site it in the required location and height. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did.

Click here to see further commission images and testimonial.


Image credits: No. 10 & 12-17 Anne Purkiss


Chelsea gets new public art

Tags: Public Commission, Outdoor Sculpture

1 June 2015:
Today the paving was completed around the twin sculpture in Chelsea, and the covers came off - Evidence of the Unseen Mountain is here to stay. The builders did a superb job cutting the paving slabs to jigsaw fit around the base of each sculpture.

Commissioned by Native Land, with the support from Art Projects Management Ltd, it can be seen at the junction of Alpha Place and Chelsea Manor Street, London.


The Reading Job

Tags: Public Commission, Public Sculpture, Outdoor Sculpture

15th May 2015:
Yesterday was wet! Not really what we needed for the installation of two large twisting granite sculptures weighing 8500 kg. each. The strapping of these sculpture was always going to be exacting, so after we removed them from the open top containers, the six hour window for a road closure meant that we had run out of time to even get one up.

Not a bad thing really, as today the sun shone and the lifting straps didn't slip. There was always only going to be one way to strap these sculptures - along their length. I knew that once they were vertical, the lifting up, over and into the top of the scaffold support frame was going to be relatively straight forward, but the hoisting from horizontal to the vertical was tense to say the least. Fortunately I was working with two experienced boys from the lifting company Ainscough. The crane operator Bob (first image) was superb at keeping the end of the jib absolutely plumb above the choked sling lifting the sculpture. Very, very slowly he raised the horizontal sculpture into the vertical position as if gently playing spillikins, and then I could breath.

I spent a further few hours placing metal rods through the base of each granite sculpture and resin bonding them to the granite. Now all that remains is the pouring of a second concrete foundation layer, bonding all the reinforcement together, and then the build up of the final landscaping surface. I hope to have images of the finish sculpture, unveiled, in a few months.....

First four images courtesy of Anne Purkiss


Chelsea News

Tags: Public Commission, Outdoor Sculpture

14th April, 2015:
Tuesday was a good day: the sun was shining and I installed my latest London sculpture on a quiet street in Chelsea. The install itself was pretty straightforward: lifting two sculptures and craning them into position, to sit on a pre placed foundation fixing frame. Once the lorry had set up its position, the two lifts were completed in less than an hour - a record installation time for my sculptures.

Now the builders are to retrofit the paving slabs and fit the up lighters, so in a few weeks we will be able to see the completed work - watch this space.....


A first for bronze

Tags: Public Commission, Outdoor Sculpture

2nd April, 2015:
Yesterday I was at the foundry, overseeing the final stages in the making of my very first bronze sculpture. In two weeks, this will be sighted in Chelsea, London, as a new public sculpture for Native Land. Four months ago I delivered a mould of the face of a rough hewn granite block, to the foundry, and now the casting and fabrication is finished. I was fascinated to see how complicated the internal frame fabrication was (right hand image), and delighted with the high degree of finishing the form ended up with. But the form is only half the battle with a bronze: the patina really brings the form alive, giving it colour, tone and depth.

Below you can see the patina being gently rubbed into the bronze surface: when the desired patination has bitten into the surface, the patina is washed off with water, to neutralised the acids, thus 'fixing' the patina.


Long Distance Creativity

Tags: Public Commission, Studio Practice, Outdoor Sculpture

18th February, 2015:
Last week I was back in the Chinese granite carving capital - Huian, to oversee the 'almost finished' sculptures, for a commission to be sited in Reading this May. Whilst the two highly geometric forms looked pretty amazing, particularly because of their size and mass, the helical twists were not completely spot on. This degree of accuracy, I believe, is needed in order to transform these two carvings into something 'other'. To give them a sense that their form and energy could carry on twisting, and rising (at their final resting place in Reading) up into the air for hundred of meters. Its the difference between an impressive object, and something unexpected that continues to arrest your vision when first sighted.

In order to achieve this I had to show the chief mason what I meant, by looking down the long twisting arris of the edge, continually moving my eye, until I can spot where the inaccuracy lies, over the five and a half meter form: a few millimetres here to mark a slight depression, a few more millimetres there, in order to identify where a subtle lump in the form sits. It may sound like tiny 'tweaking', but it really does result in a form which has an incredibly tight, and believable, movement in all its surfaces and form. The chief mason was fascinated to learn this degree of accuracy, something which the factory managers don't normally aspire to.

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