You are currently viewing all entries with the tag: public space

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."


WAC Awards 2016

Tags: Group Exhibition, Public Space

10th October
I just love this image of Being Things: like an exotic food stuff, almost ready to eat. The exhibition has a really interesting hang this year as it is in the Bishops Palace, alongside ancient architecture, furniture and portraits.

Certainly worth a look if you are new Wells:
The Bishop's Palace, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2PD
8-22 October
Open: 10am - 6pm


The Flesh of the World

Tags: Group Exhibition, Public Space

4th March 2016:
The world made flesh....
An installation view of my work in the exhibition Mending Revealed which opens tomorrow at:
Allsop Gallery, Bridport Arts Centre, 9 South Street, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3NR
Exhibition open - 10 - 4 pm, Tues - Sat, 5 March - 16 April
T: 01308 424204 -


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.


A Ghost Made

Tags: Studio Practice, Group Exhibition, Public Space

22nd January, 2015:
Today I installed the rock half of Ghost: 4.5 tonnes of carboniferous limestone boulder. A tense time during the craning in of the boulder, incase vital measurements of the foundation pins didn't marry up with the rock's base plate, but all was well.

Carrying on from the news post A Ghost in the Making (10th December), here are a few more images of the finishing stages of the sculpture: I think the images speak for themselves.

Ghost can be seen at the exhibition:
Second Site
31st January - 12th April 2015
Open daily 11 - 4pm
Hestercombe Gallery, Hestercombe House, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, TA2 8LG
T: 01823 413923


A Ghost in the Making

Tags: Group Exhibition, Studio Practice, Public Space

10th December 2014:
The last few weeks have seen a manic degree of activity in the studio - many assistants helping me make a vast cast of a 4.5 tonnes boulder. The process I'm familiar with: take a silicone mould from a rock, back it up with a hard GRP shell, take a second silicone mould from the first, backed up, and then make the final cast. However, this time the boulder being cast was rather large. Its a strangely meditative process though, painting sticky silicone onto stone: the concentration level needs to be kept high, but the technique is the same from one square foot to the next. The intensity comes from having to apply the wet silicone evenly on the stone's surface, before it starts to gel and becomes like putty, when you can't move it around any more. Because the stone had many vertical, even overhanging, sides we decided to have a short pot life for the silicone. This meant that each batch had to be applied in under ten minutes.

This is a sculpture I will be exhibiting next month in a group exhibition called Second Site, held at Hestercombe Gallery, Taunton.


A Glorious Unveiling

Tags: Public Commission, Public Event, Public Space, Outdoor Sculpture, Studio Practice

23rd September 2014
Yesterday, with the sun shining and the urban bustle of 375 Kensington High Street behind, I, the Executive chairman of St Edward Paul Vallone and the Mayor of RBK&C Councillor Maighread Condon Simmonds, collectively unveiled my latest public sculpture Glorious Beauty. Speeches were given in the Trinity House marketing sweat and then we all watched the veil fall, to reveal a piece of nature's raw beauty, a glacial erratic from North Wales.

It was a bold decision by St Edward to commission a sculpture which would be a direct continuation and development of my studio practice, but helped by the guidance of their art consultant, Ann Elliott, they were in good hands to make it.

Typically I source my rock from dimensional stone quarries around the world, where the virgin material is sawn or split from the quarry face in order that it isn't fractured in any way, making it ideal for the building industry or masons and sculptors alike. Unusually, I sourced this stone from a gravel quarry in North Wales. This was because having been tumbled around by glaciers during the last ice age, it had the soft weathered appearance I was after: not a sharp edged, man-made form fresh from a quarry, but an overtly organic, almost prehistoric standing stone type of form. The rock itself is actually a metamorphic mudstone called garnet amphibolite which was formed in Anglesea.

Interestingly, if the last ice age had been more vigerous, pushing the ice sheet further south, then the glacial moraine which was deposited to become a North Wales gravel quarry, may well have transported this very boulder to the heart of Kensington, where between the early C16th and mid C19th there were gravel pits supplying the builing of London's West End.

The man-made counterpoint to this beautiful glacial boulder is a digitally created, stainless steel, mirrored copy of the boulder. At first sight it is not particularly apparent, but through the process of scanning the boulder I was then able to flip the form, almost like turning it inside out, in order that the upper boulder, mirrored the lower. An intriguing series of processes and companies then followed in order that I ended up with the sculpture now sat on the pavement for all to see and touch, a sculpture which manifests both continuity and change:

1. Digital scanning of the original glacial boulder, then flipped in form.
2. New 'flipped' digital file given to CNC machine in Telford, to mill the final upper boulder form in high density polyurethane foam.
3. That foam boulder given to Castle Fine Art Foundry in Wales where a rubber mould was taken of the foam boulder.
4. A new wax boulder made from the rubber mould, exact in every detail to the stainless steel boulder that we see today.
5. The wax boulder cut into about fifteen pieces, each piece being individually invested in ceramic shells and given to a specialist stainless steel foundry in Birmingham.
6. The fifteen or so pieces taken back to Castle Foundry where the jigsaw of pieces were welded back together, in the correct formation. Then followed weeks if not months of fettling, grinding and sanding in order to get rid of the welding lines so that it appeared as a single, solid cast boulder.
7 Then back to Birmingham to an electro polishers, which make stainLESS steel become stainPROOF steel.
8. Then to a designated stainless steel hand polisher in Dudley.
9. And finally to my studio where I had to accuratly drill the stone in order to receive a huge solid s/s rod which fixes the two boulder securely together, and general test fitting, before being installed on site a couple of years after I was originally given the contract.

So there's the back story of what, to me at least, appears as a poetic sculpture, with a calm gravity of presence, that will enhance the public realm at the busy junction of Warwick Road and Kensington High Street.

Top image courtesy of photographer Ann Purkiss


Tags: Public Commission, Public Space

23rd June 2014:
Friday saw a usually intense day for the installation of Glorious Beauty at the junction of Warwick Road and Kensington High Street, London. Intense because everything needs to go according to plan and there are countless pieces of kit, tools, slings, resin, nuts and bolts etc. which all need to be on site ready at the appropriate time. If I forget any of the kit, it would mean halting the installation for hours whilst a replacement can be found, or worse case scenario - cancel the job. Needless to say it ran smoothly, a large part of this was down to the Hiab crane operator gently guiding the two units together, millimetre by millimetre, making sure that spigots were properly aligned to their receiving holes. So, it is finally installed, over two years after being initial contacted about the commission.

For the next two months, we'll just have to enjoy the Christo-like anticipation of what it looks like under the wrapping.

Glorious Beauty grounded

Tags: Public Commission, Outdoor Sculpture, Public Space

7th May 2014:
I think it is interesting to understand what goes on underground, and unseen, with the installation of large public realm sculptures. Yesterday I was on the vast building site of St Edward in Kensington, when Glorious Beauty will be installed next month, fitting the stainless steel base plate. The orientation of this plate to Kensington High Street and the level of the stainless steel support blocks are critical. The surrounding paving will cover this plate, leaving the tops of the two lower blocks, and half of the taller block visible above the paving. The boulder will then be fixed to these so that, whilst it will appear that a large glacial boulder is randomly 'balanced' on the pavement, it is infact securely fixed to a substantial underground base plate which will last well in excess of a century.

Granite Engineered

Tags: Public Commission, Public Space

1st May 2014 :
The Reading commission, The Space Between, is proceeding well: I have just finished working with my engineers on the calculations for the twin granite twisting forms. Whilst the forms look very simple, they are infact complicated geometric forms, whose centre of gravity proved difficult to calculate. This image is just one of a number which shows the various stresses involved with the final piece, taking into account wind loading and foundation construction details. I have now placed the order for two twenty five tonne granites blocks to be quarried and expect to be in China next month to oversee the carving of these precise forms.

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