Note that this is an archive of the project which has been replaced by the reflections project
Our first commission is for a sculpture to celebrate the internationally famed Norwich School of Artists, which included John Crome and John Sell Cotman. Mariele Neudecker, herself a rising international artist making ground breaking works about landscape, was chosen as the artist to produce the sculpture on St Martin-at-Palace Plain, which is the site of Cotman House, the artist's home for ten years. Her proposal is based on a series of innovative glass panels held in a stainless steel matrix, which fuse transparency and reflection with embedded black and white images. The spectator will see through the glass panels as well as what is reflected in them, together with photographs of spectators and of trees – from Norwich School paintings and from those in Norfolk. The proportions of the panels are directly related to the windows appearing in Cotman House.
The sculpture is an ‘L’ shape, sited with the shorter side towards the buildings on the plain, carefully sited to allow views of the fine architecture. Two doors on the longer side invite the spectator to contemplate a choice of path, while the reflections and shadows of people on the other side will animate the work, which is open to allow access through it by all users of the plain. The frame is of robust matt stainless steel, but narrow in section. The whole effect will be of a shimmering light filled and animated structure. This was difficult to appreciate in the revised model produced by Mariele in June 2012, where a relatively small maquette was displayed on a scale model of the site. Nonetheless the model elicited a great deal of positive interest when it was displayed in the Forum in November of last year.
In another development Norwich City Council’s Planning Department suggested that SfN submitted an Informal Planning Application (IPA) in order to highlight the main issues that would need to be addressed in a full application. SfN submitted this in August 2012. In their response the planners appreciated the concept of the sculpture which they thought to be a successful way of enhancing Palace Plain and celebrating the Norwich School of Artists. They expressed some concerns about the relationship of the work’s quasi-architectural framework in relation to the other buildings on the site. Other issues related to archaeology, traffic safety, health and safety and general impact on the site were mentioned and will still need to be addressed when the final form of the work is agreed.
The concerns about the longevity of the photographic images, expressed by the trustees of SfN, have now been effectively answered. FutureCity, the commissioning body, introduced Mariele to new techniques developed by Andrew Moor Associates, Architectural Glass Artists ). Imagery is burned onto and then embedded in specially toughened glass. This is set behind another sheet and the two are sealed into one panel, with a considerably longer life than that of any previous method.
The trustees of SfN were concerned at the difficulty of demonstrating these developments, which cannot be made out in the model produced for the second consultative meeting. As a result they commissioned a Computer Generated Image of the sculpture set correctly into its proposed position on Palace Plain, with a number of different views explaining this and its impact on the site as clearly as possible. The CGI was designed by Geoffrey French of the Urban Modelling Group and was completed in late April 2013 to coincide with a lecture given by Mariele Neudecker at Norwich University of the Arts concerning her current practice.
The CGI presented a much clearer impression of how the proposed sculpture might look, and it elicited great interest, both positive and questioning. The result of feedback from various parties suggested that there were still considerable misunderstandings relating to the form of the work. In the light of these difficulties, it has to be remembered that the CGI is only an updated form of an artists impression, and due to the complexity of what has to be included, it cannot give the whole picture of how the sculpture might finally look.
Here are answers to the main issues raised by interested parties.
SfN is currently working on arranging for the public display in Norwich of the CGI with Trustees present to answer any questions that may arise.