Introduction to design

(How I learned to stop worrying and love the art)

Design Brief

For this piece, I am required to design, plan and construct my own piece of street/public art. I will be responsible for time keeping, production and all planning within the project. The construction will be in the form of a scale Maquette, which I will then edit into the environment where it would belong.

I will record my ideas and plans within this blog, as well as a note book which I shall scan in, in order to keep this blog up to date.

I will also include various references and images which may have started a train of thought or inspired my choices (with credits where available)

Another Place - Antony Gormley

Source of image –

Research and Inspiration

By definition, Public Art is a piece that the public can interact with it. This was a main stay in the planning and adapting of my public art. This factor also inspired my piece in many ways, both in my conceptual pieces and my final idea.

It doesn’t take long to find out that Sheffield is a green city. In fact, a quick look anywhere both in the city and online will show just how green the city is. With it’s population of just under 600,000 and it’s estimated 2 million trees it has the highest tree to person ratio in the whole of Europe.

Another commonly known fact about Sheffield is that it was the steel capital of the UK and brought about the mass production of many, now vital, steel working techniques such as Crucible Furnaces and Stainless Steel manufacturing.

Prior to my final idea however, I had several of varying quality and relevance to their locations.

Inspired by works such as Antony Gormley’s: ‘Another Place’, I thought about the effects of nature on varying objects and how I could make these into an interesting piece of art. My first thought came from talking to my girlfriend’s mother, about her job as at an NHS hospital, specifically, the budget cuts affecting the business. My idea was to make a Large steel/copper hand and cover it in paper mache and as the rain fell, it would make the paper mache ‘skin’ fall off. This was designed as a protest to the budget cuts.

This idea was initially the idea that I was going to run with through out the course, however, I thought that the whole idea could be too macabre, as well as very messy – so I searched for an alternative

Another idea I had was that of a Roman Centurion standing on a plinth, holding a spear, with strange chunk cut out of him. If stood at the right angle, this would reveal a QR code to the viewer which they could scan – causing the now VR Centurion to step off his Plinth and stand to attention, as rows and rows of other Roman Soldiers appeared around him. This would then be captioned with “Sheffield History Museum, see things diferently”. This was inspired by  several VR/AR pieces already in existence, ranging from Holographs (Used for cartoon bands, such as The Gorillaz or Hatsune Miku) and ‘Marker based’ Augmented Reality such as featured in this clip.

One major turn off for this idea was simply that trying to work out where to stand would take too long for the casual observer, which while potentially very rewarding for a group of people, wouldn’t catch the appeal of everyone who walked past.

I also had a few ideas which never even made it off the spider graph, including a mock ‘Steel throne’ akin to Game of Thrones, and another idea which was a steel sculpture of a man in a flatcap forging a katana. That was designed to promote relations between Japan, with a sister statue being placed in Kawasaki – One of Sheffield’s twin cities- of a steel statue of a traditional Japanese forge worker making western cutlery.

This idea didn’t take off for a great many reasons, one such being travel to Kawasaki would be extremely difficult, especially just to take a few photographs.

Winter GardenMoor Floor

Final Idea

Inspiration for my final idea came when I was walking through the Winter Garden. The complimentary-contrast of both man made architecture and the curves of nature inspired me to think of Sheffields History, as well as Sheffield’s Present. In the past it was known as the Steel Capital of the UK and perhaps the world – Now it is the greenest city in the UK and one of the most green cities in Europe. I walked away from the Winter Garden, past the steel orbs. This made me think about Sheffield’s history with water and more importantly – The Seven Weirs Walk.

Later, I was walking down The Moor, when all of a sudden, it started to rain. While scrawling down notes, I look around at the public. Both Big Issue salesmen and Buskers a like were stood out, trying to make money. What could be done for them?

A Shelter.

My idea is that of a Tree, made from steel, with a solid steel canopy.

Wandering further along, I came across a Greggs Delivery Van, inspiring me to include potential advertising within my piece. The could be done by using a projector, mounted within the ‘trunk of the tree’. This could project onto a curtain of water, making the message appear to have a 3d effect, however it runs the risk of ‘devaluing’ the whole piece.

The ultimate aim of my piece is to not only ‘bookend’ Sheffield, by showing it’s heritage as well as it’s modern environment. It’s also to bring people together, with a peaceful rest area, under the branches of Sheffield’s past.

For my mock up, I aim to use a combination of plastic, foil, clay and greenstuff, however the real model would be made of hollow steel and brass composite. The scale of the real sculpture would be big enough to accommodate 8 people under the canopy, sat around facing away from the trunk (see image).


The exterior of the tree was originally inspired by a tree that I saw while walking IMG_0598

This tree helped provide the concept for the design of the tree:


Thinking mechanically, the tree had a good base if it was placed outside of the Train Station – given that there is already a large Water Feature nearby – The Blade.

Production of final idea

My final product was made from a mixture of clay, plastic and clear polythene, and looked something like this during conception:


However, even at this early stage I could tell that just trying to stick a clay canopy wouldn’t work, due to the simple lack of support. As such, I had to improvise. Using an old model kit I had, I sliced off a section of Sprue and used it to secure the canopy in place. The final picture shows scale to what real humans would be in comparison to the tree


After inserting the sprue supports I started work on the canopy. Unfortunately, this turned out less tree like and more… ‘Mushroomy’


In hindsight, the canopy could have been modelled much better after following a handful of tutorials, however, I tried to produce it using my prior skills. Hence it’s distinct, misshapen form.

Despite this, I tried to make the best of a bad situation. I smoothed out the top of the canopy and began using one of my modelling tools to emboss a pattern into the canopy. this was a rather arduous task, but one that I feel added a good level of much needed detail to the canopy.


The tree was a tad malformed, however I felt proud of it – and with that pride, I went to bed.

Only to wake and find:…


the tree had fallen, damaging it’s base, as well as the trunk, whats more is that I didn’t have any spare clay to rebuild it with.

This was a big hit to morale, as well as my timescale. However, I didn’t dwell on the failure of the old, instead I looked forward to what I could do next – namely, fixing the mushroom design.

My first ‘re-attempt’ at the scale model maquette was going to be made from Wood, Wire, Vac-formed Plastic and Plaster Bandage:


I began by twisting a section of wire around a pencil:


This was to be the skeleton basis for the trunk – I then decided to add to it, as it seemed far too thin to support the dome.


While the size of trunk was now satisfactory, I had a sneaking suspicion that my poor craftsmanship had already doomed this idea before it got off the ground, regardless I pressed forward – now, by drilling a few holes in order to support the rather springy skeleton of the tree.


I ran the wire under the base, then stitched it back around.

The ultimate result, pre-bandage looked like:


…And I hated it.

It was then that I stumbled across a technician, known as Val, who provided me with a large block of clay – as well as a proper set of tools to work with it. Val’ the godsend.
IMG_0634 IMG_0635    IMG_0639

After roughly two hours work of admittedly protracted work, I was rewarded with a piece that looked far and aways more superior to any of it’s predecessors.

The body piece, as seen above, was carved into:


A vaguely tree shaped design. A tree shaped design which I felt more proud off than any other clay model I had ever built before in my life.

The canopy design began life as:


A piece of clay on a dome shaped mould, with it’s edges trimmed off. In order to form this, all I would require is a simple leafy pattern stamp…


..Oh look, a leafy pattern stamp!

The pattern on the canopy is what I am most proud of throughout every evolution of this design procedure, simply because of how professional it feels. It was also at this point where I realised where I had seen this tree’s design before. On the african island of Socotra, their lives an indigenous species of cinnabar tree known as ‘Dragon’s Blood’, which look like this.

But, I digress – The end result of the Pattern stamp and body of the tree came out like this:

IMG_0640 IMG_0642


With the model constructed, I began on my ultimate piece; The Tree in situate!

The Final Product – production

My final product came as a calmative effort of the paramount experience of everything that came before, that is, all the skills that I had learned whilst doing the tree.

Not documented in this log, I have been doing basic photoshop in order to attempt to improve my skills – Basic photoshop meaning: swapping the faces of my friends and I with movie stars –

Photo Locations:

Steel Texture

Water Texture

Everything not listed is my own imagery:


If the image above fails to load, please try this link

A link to my formal proposal can be found here: Tree Proposal


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s