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Ascendant: Influences

Tags: Public Commission, Studio Practice

20th June
In the last of four short films describing thoughts and processes behind my sculpture Ascendant: The Elizabeth Landmark, I here talk about what inspires and influences my practice. Landscape and the natural world are at the heart of it.
Film by Crystlsd
Click HERE to see short film.

Studio Interior
 

Ascendant: Inspiration

Tags: Public Commission, Studio Practice

17th June
Commissioning briefs for large scale public works of art can be expansive and thought provoking: Ascendant has layers of social, material and historical context but here I describe how it references Queen Elizabeth II and The Commonwealth.
Film by Crystalsd
Click HERE to see short film

study
 

Ascendant: How I Got Involved

Tags: Public Commission, Studio Practice

13th June
How a sculptor ends up making public art, involves months and sometimes years of conversations and thought, a whittling down of applicants and options until the right solution presents itself. Here I describe a little of the process behind Ascendant.
Film by Crystlsd
Click HERE to see short film

1
 

Ascendant: Describing the sculpture

Tags: Public Commission, Studio Practice

10th June
As the planning decision for my commission in Northumberland draws near, I'd like to share a few personal thoughts behind its design and choice of materials. It took weeks for the seed of an idea to germinate in to the final form - Ascendant: The Elizabeth Landmark.
Film by Crystlsd
Click HERE to see short film.

Screen Shot 2019 06 10 at 09.26.39 copy
 

Ascendant's Planning Application

Tags: Public Sculpture, Outdoor Sculpture, Public Commission

24th January

Today, after months of in-depth research, calculations and drawings, the Elizabeth Landmark, a.k.a. Ascendant, planning application was submitted. It feels like a milestone, because there have been a wonderful team of dedicated consultants working flat out on such subjects as archaeology, ecology, landscape, topography, transport, engineering etc. all pulling together to make a water-tight planning application.

Its been a joy to work with them all, particularly the landscape architects Southern Green who have made beautiful drawings from my hand drawn sketches, and working with a 3D model and topographical survey, in order to give a better understanding of how the sculpture will finally sit within the beautiful landscape of Northumberland.

Below, one such wire frame drawing which animates a landscape photograph, and location map. One of dozens of drawings.

Elizabeth Landmark   Ascendant
 

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

Artnet

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

 
 
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