Community Consultation, Design, Manufacture & Installation of Historical Decorative Fence Panels
- completed August 2006
- budget £25, 675.00
- commissioned jointly by Norton Priory Museum Trust and Halton Borough Council
- A Two Phase Project: 1. Research, Consultation & Design 2003 2. Fabrication & Installation 2006
PHASE 1 Research, Consultation & Design
A huge amount of historical research was undertaken to inform this project. Assisted by Joanne Brown – Collections Assistant at Norton Priory in 2003 – I looked through museum archives, viewed and recorded various objects unearthed during excavations at the castle. These included clay pipes, coins, plates and fragments of pottery.
I consulted with the Halton Castle Conservation Society whose expertise was of great value. They loaned me their collection of excavation reports containing some exquisite site drawings. I arranged for the Conservation Society to attend a workshop with me at the Castle Pub, together with Steve Miller who was director of Norton Priory museum at the time. We worked from the research information to produce monoprints and embossed copper illustrations relating to the castle and the objects recovered in the excavations. These appear on Panel One as permanent laser-etched drawings on small patches of stainless steel.
Children at St. Mary’s Primary School spent a lovely day with me looking at heraldry design and creating designs for their own personal coats of arms. Then they used printing inks to create colourful mosaic versions of their designs onto card shields. Some of these shields also appear on Panel One now made from bronze with real mosaic inlay to depict their motifs.
A further workshop took place at the Pupil Referral Unit. Some excellent artwork was produced by young people there on the theme of war, armour, crime and punishment. Their drawings and metal punchwork designs have been meticulously recreated in Panel Two.
Once the workshops were complete, I had the task of working out and detailing the panel designs: deciding how to organise and present the most relevant and interesting snippets of information and create designs for the panels that were not only attractive but also feasible to make!
In July 2003, the designs for the four panels were displayed as part of the Halton Castle Open Day together with an array of samples to handle, such as the shield of Nigel of Halton, which now has a permanent position on Panel Three.
PHASE 2 Fabrication & Installation
Finding the right fabricator for this job had to be a well considered choice and after visiting a couple of other specialist stainless steel fabricators, I spoke to Mark Littler of Marine Fabrications. Marine Fabrications is not the closest company – they’re just outside Birmingham – but having met Mark and discussed the fabrication in detail, I was reassured that the job was in very capable hands. Marine Fabrications were friendly, helpful, reliable and meticulous about detail.
Of course, making the panels involved quite a number of skilled craftsmen and women and was relatively complicated with the various processes that had to be carefully managed.
First I had to produce a comprehensive set of accurate line drawings for each detail on the four panels for the different techniques being used. These were then converted into files that could be read by the computers in the chemical etching process and by laser-cutting machines.
The blank, heavy, 1900mm x 1200mm stainless steel panels were delivered first to Mockridges in Ashton under Lyne. They had to acid etch and then clean and fill the lines of all the drawings and text. They then colour printed the Barons’ shields on Panel Three. This is not a service frequently requested by customers of Mockridge Labels and Nameplates and the job was far from straightforward but I know from experience that they’re good and anyway they seem to enjoy a challenge!
Once this was done, the panels were wrapped up and shipped down to LaserProcess in Cannock to have bits cut out of them by a state-of-the-art laser machine. The team at LaserProcess took pride in doing this job to an excellent standard and happily for me they didn’t cut away any of the etched drawings, either!
Finally, the panels went back to Marine Fabrications where they were welded into their frames and painstakingly cleaned up and polished.
In the meantime, fellow artist Karen Allerton assisted me in my studio to produce clay originals of all the bronze features. Bill from L.E.W. Diecasting expertly cast the bronze and Castle Fine Art Foundry helped me with the colour patinas.
Mosaic inlay was applied to the bronze shields at my studio, using a high spec resin cement and once complete, the collection of bronze features was taken to Marine Fabs to be fixed into position, together with the laser-etched stainless steel drawings.
The completed four panels: