Client: Morecombe Bay Partnership
Location: Heysham, United Kingdom
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $70,000
Rob Mulholland Public Art
'Settlement' was commissioned by Morecambe Bay Partnership as part of their Landscape Art Commissions open call for 2018 [ Headland to Headspace ] with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The stunning location of Heysham Head near Morecambe in the North West England was proposed as the preferred site for a temporary art installation. The project's brief was to celebrate the rich social and natural heritage of Morecombe Bay and encourage public interaction and increase visitors to the area.
The dramatic sites at Heysham Head with the remnants of St Patrick's Chapel and the Anglo Saxon rock graves immediately draws one to imagine the locations historical past. The open vista and views across the sea further enhance this feeling of being witness to a moment in time, imagining the early settlers sailing into the bay and establishing a new settlement. My artistic vision aimed to connect the present day visitor to this past world, allowing the visitors to create their own connection between themselves and the past history and heritage of the region. In total there were three large sculptural forms that represented the dwellings and six standing figures, each one constructed in mirror polished stainless steel. The use of reflective materials allows the structures to absorb the natural surroundings, reflecting the changing light and atmosphere throughout the day. A subtle visual metaphor conveying the passing of time! My artistic vision is not rigid, it's purposely open to interpretation. The ambiguity of the forms and utilisation of unconventional materials aimed to enhance the visual experience and allow the viewer to create their own narrative and interpretation of the artwork.
Throughout the project there was a close collaboration with the art consultants Decopublique and commissioners Morecambe Bay Partnership. The site is of historical importance and concerns had to be addressed as to the impact on the site. Practical considerations had to be carefully considered. The site has no road access, so each sculpture had to be moved on a specially constructed trolley over rough ground. The installation team and organisers worked together to overcome these difficulties and the installation was completed in two days in time for the public unveiling.
'Settlement' attracted substantial visitor numbers during it's two week exhibition period and went on to be installed at another site at Birkrigg Common on the other side of Morecambe Bay for a further two week period. We have been extremely pleased at the public's response and enthusiasm at both sites and the installation has engaged the public to consider their local heritage and environment.