The Wellcome Trust, a biomedical research charity, commissioned the studio to design a sculpture for the atrium of its new headquarters. The site for the sculpture was within an eight-storey high atrium space above a pool of water. Although a huge space, the sculpture was commissioned after the building was complete, meaning it had to fit through a standard sized front door.
The vertiginous quality of this space, coupled with the presence of water, suggested the idea of exploring ways of capturing the dynamic shapes of falling liquids. Following extensive experimentation, pouring molten metal into water was found to create extraordinary and complex forms in a fraction of a second. No two experiments produced the same result. Over four hundred of these were produced before a five centimetre piece was created and selected as it was felt it would work well with the building and is the basis of the final thirty metre project.
This original piece was digitised and exactly replicated using 142,000 glass spheres suspended on 27,000 high tensile steel wires; 15 tonnes of glass and just under a million metres of wire. The spheres, made in Poland in a spectacle lens factory, were the result of a collaboration with Flux Glass, their shifting colour and brightness coming from a layer of dichroic film set between the two hemispherical lenses that make up each sphere.
Bleigiessen can be viewed on the last Friday of every month at 2pm.
Project Leader: Rachel Hain
Team: Eleanor Bird, Christos Choraitis, Marion Gillet, Ellen Hägerdal, Jem Hanbury, Ingrid Hu, Toby Maclean, Simon Macro, Tomomi Matusbi, Craig Stephenson, Stuart Wood
Makers: Craig Henderson