Portable stack furnace - Portland Plaque Series.
This summer I was selected by BSIDE arts festival for a commission with Stephen Coles. Our project involved the fabrication of a site-specific foundry. The design of the furnace constructed was an ecological portable stack furnace. The shape is based on a design found in an early 20th century book on low technology casting methods.
It generates enough heat through burning coal, and natural draft, to melt a 10kg crucible of bronze. It meant that it could be deployed at various sites around the island, as no electric blower is needed. It allowed us to cast live for an audience in visually stunning or unique locations.
The next part of the project involved engaging with the community through a series of presentations and open studio events. The purpose of these was to make connections with the local people and gather stories that relate the unique community of Portland.
These were then cast onto bronze plaques, using the furnace , live for an audience. A key focus was creating a performative spectacle for the viewer by casting in beautiful locations, and at the same time revealing the whole process, from mould making to pour, used in creating a work of art.
15 plaques were made over the week, each was documented with its teller, then mounted at various points around the island that held significance to the tale being told. This way we were creating a new local history, whilst commemorating the mundane as some thing special through the use of bronze, thus adding a humorous side to the project. A book is being made documenting and siting each plaque, and creating a walk for visitors to Portland.