Brickwork 'shard' sculpture unveiled in Bursledon

Published: 30th September 2015

Published by City College Southampton

It's not often brickwork can be described as inspiring, but City College Southampton tutor Joe Taylor has combined artwork and bricklaying to create a new and unique sculpture for Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum. 

'A Twisted Shard' was unveiled pride of place in the museum's courtyard last Sunday (July 19) to over 100 people who had contributed to the artwork. The twisted sculpture is made of bricks, stands at 30 courses or 2.5 metres high and features a time capsule with information about the history of the museum, the artist and the community groups involved in the build.

Brick artist Joe built the piece using existing bricks and personalised, hand-moulded bricks made by visitors to the museum. It was important that the piece stayed true to the heritage of the brickworks, so Joe incorporated materials and techniques relevant to the old factory. Keen to promote inclusivity and accessibility for all, this multi-sensory experience was especially important to help partially sighted, blind and disabled visitors learn about the history behind the brick making industry. Visitors will be able to recognise their own bricks by feeling the finished work and taking crayon rubbings from it.

Joe said: "The design went as planned and I am very happy with the finished result. It's amazing to see something imagined in your head and on a computer simulator come to life. I feel honoured that my work will be displayed at Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum, a place with so much historical value."

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Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC sponsored the bricks and supplied the raw clay from its factory in Romsey free of charge. A brick carver also attended the opening ceremony to let the gathered crowd try their hand at the decorative carving techniques that had gone into creating the shard.

Joe continued: "The best part about the project was working with children and adults to make the bricks and then having the chance to build them into the wall, knowing each print will be a little legacy. I am looking forward to my next project which will also hopefully involve the community."

Throughout the project Joe held workshops for local school children and young adults to mould their own personalised bricks that were eventually added to the build. Each brick took one month to dry and was fired for 36 hours before being added to the commission.

Joe's bricklaying students from City College were also invited to fire their own bricks and used imprinted shapes and words to decorate them. The students even helped plug clay and dig the artwork's foundations during their tour of the museum.