Thursday, July 12, 2012

portstewart sculpture

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The final piece of sculpture that I researched is called ‘The Sailing Ship’ and is mounted on a concrete dais and placed in the Burnside roundabout. The ship is of some relevance to the life and work of the late Jimmy Kennedy. (Plate ).

The Coleraine Borough Council commissioned this sculpture and the Landscape Architect, Stephen Todd of ‘Stephen Todd Art and Sculpture’ was chosen to create a piece of work which would reflect the area and give it a sense of place. I was fortunate enough to achieve an interview with the sculptor Stephen Todd.

Stephen Todd trained as a Landscape Architect, and achieved a B.A. (Hons) in Landscape Design from Manchester Poly Technical College. He has been inspired by the work of Richard Serra, born in 1, who works in a Minimalist style. In the 1070’s and 180’s Serra produced large-scale sculptures, out-of-doors and used combined sheets of steel with a landscape environment. Therefore the sculpture became part of the landscape.


Mr.Todd noticed that the Coleriane Council were supporting a scheme, which enables businesses to have the opportunity to sponsor the cost of landscaping on Coleraine’s roundabouts. He liked the proposed scheme and felt that there was an opportunity to create something more dramatic and creative due to the local area’s rich history.

The Council rejected the initial proposal for the Burnside roundabout, as they were anxious that it would be too big a distraction for road users. It would have involved multi-coloured windsocks, similar to those found near an airport. Considering the beach is so close to the Burnside roundabout and Stephen Todd is a keen windsurfer he tried to introduce the windsocks as a fun element as well as a local reference.

The second proposal was a sailing ship. The Council refused to allocate a large amount of capital to the project, and so the second proposal was simply a wooden boat, with a steel mast, which would have flowers growing out of it. However, luckily enough the Department Manger of the Coleraine Borough Council was also keen to see something more creative and original and so the final design of the Burnside Roundabout was decided.

(Plate )

The sculpture is approximately eight metres high and is made of Stainless Steel, to prevent rusting. The material, I feel accentuates the essence of the sculpture. Stephen Todd agrees as he says; ‘ it reflects the light in a spectacular fashion. As the sun sets, the sculpture frequently turns red. On grey and cold days any available light makes the form shimmer’.

The ‘Sailing Ship’ is geometric and simple. This is to achieve than highest impact as possible with such a large sculpture. Stephen Todd feels that unnecessary decoration or complication could detract from the sheer drama of the form. This is the reason for the absence of a floodlight to illuminate it at night as passing cars lights give it the effect needed.

Foliage and boulders to give it a more realistic sense surround it. The shrubs that have been planted will have to tolerate harsh seaside weather conditions and then produce enough colour and effect to endure the summer months. The boulders are igneous rock, which reflects the Bar Mouth.

(Plate ).

The site for the sculpture is also significant. The Burnside roundabout is a junction leading off into four roads. One way takes you to Portrush, one way to Coleraine, another to the main Promenade of Portstewart and

finally one road leads to the beach. This sculpture then welcomes a large amount of tourists, as it is the gateway to the North Coast. (Plate ).

Finally, Todd intends to, in conjunction with Coleraine Council, to create more sculpture for the remaining roundabouts in the area. These include, a large Bann Disc on Wattson Roundabout, the Bann Disc being an ancient artefact, which the Coleraine Historical Society uses as their logo. A Viking ship, Mesolithic Hut, Causeway Stones and White Rocks will be placed on the Portrush Road Roundabout. Finally, the Station Road Roundabout will sport a wind vane with seagulls and a herring shoal at its crown. In conclusion, I agree with Stephen Todd,

‘If a sculpture requires a lot of waffle to justify itself then it is lacking the key ingredient, a sense of place’.

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