Best known for its eye-catching ceramics, Stoke-on-Trent last year launched a Sculpture Trail which also took visitors in search of Perseus and Medusa, a Zoomorphic Mount and the Staffordshire Saxon.
Drawing together 40 individual sculptures into one, city-wide collection of art, the final piece in the surprising jigsaw is a work entitled “Golden: the flame that never dies”.
Made by sculptor Wolfgang Buttress, who was named the winner of the Finalists’ Concepts category on the Milan Expo 2015 Design Competition for his work “BE”, Golden refers to the flame that sprang from the original Goldendale ironworks, which previously lit the Chatterley Valley in Stoke-on-Trent.
For many years, locals referred to the ironworks as “the flame that never died”; and the new artwork, made from corten steel – in a reference to the steel previously manufactured in the area – stands 21 metres tall, and includes over 1,000 hand blown glass prisms. Each one contains a memory or wish written on handmade paper by hundreds of people in the local community. The sculpture is also internally lit so that it appears to glow at night.
Lines and marks engraved on to the column of the sculpture have been inspired by The Sutherland Map, which can be found in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. That map clearly shows the layers of geological strata that make up the Chatterley Valley. On a site visit, the artist found a piece of iron from the old works, which has a remarkable resemblance to a human heart. This has been suspended in the interior of the artwork to represent the beating heart of the community.
It is just one of 40 striking pieces now featured in both a pocket-sized leaflet, as well as online at www.stokesculpturetrail.co.uk.
The Stoke-on-Trent Sculpture Trail has been designed to inspire, and includes statues of some of the great locals who have left their mark on the city – including Sir Stanley Matthews, Josiah Wedgwood, and the designer of the Spitfire Reginald Mitchell – as well as monuments and memorials linked to the history and heritage of The Potteries, and conceptual and true works of art.
Amongst those falling into the final category is the statue of Perseus and Medusa which, in 2012, took on a leading role in the Royal Academy of the Arts’ exhibition, “Bronze”. Perseus made a hero’s return at the start of 2013, and now lines-up in the Sculpture Trail alongside works previously seen at the National Garden Festival in 1986 and more recent additions to the pieces of public art which have been springing-up across the city during the last decade.
Copies of the leaflet can be found at the Tourist Information Centre in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, as well as from other information racks, hotels, and attractions throughout Stoke-on-Trent & The Potteries.