Installation view at Abingdon Studios, Blackpool, 2021
The making of Rockified
Video by Sam Meredith
Gustavo Ferro & Sam Meredith, installation at Abingdon Studios Project Space & Window Gallery, Blackpool
Photos by Matt Wilkinson
ROCKIFIED - Gustavo Ferro in collaboration with Sam Meredith
Gustavo Ferro (b.1988) is a visual artist based between Brazil and the United Kingdom. He is interested in the urban environment and the relationship between the human body and man-made objects. His approach to materials is experimental, working across different media such as sculpture, drawing, video and photography.
Gustavo and Sam first met as part of the School of the Damned Cohort in 2018. During this time they began a conversation surrounding the materiality of objects and the process of making sculptures, travelling from city to city in the UK and engaging with each other by exploring their practices within different contexts.
Gustavo’s recent work comes from an investigation into artificial landscapes built with pulhamite, a material that resembles natural rock created by Pulham & Son and used to ‘rockify’ the cliffs in the North Shore of Blackpool in 1923. Since Gustavo began to research and regularly visit these sites in person, a collaboration with Sam began remotely, developing homemade recipes and mix designs to try and simulate this material.
Sam Meredith (b.1991) is a visual artist based in London. Sam’s work arrives through the process of construction, unpicking objects he encounters by making moulds and casting multiples, then slowly assembling them into new hybrids. Sam enjoys documenting the pre-life of his sculptures, filming videos to elaborate on the experience of them being made.
Abingdon Studios Project Space and Window Gallery* will act as a laboratory and workshop, allowing for the experimentation with glass fibre reinforced concrete to continue to unravel, exploring possibilities of working together through creating a site responsive installation.
For both artists tactility is important, their work is a collaboration with materials that demands kinship and presence, acknowledging the waste, sweat, labour, and love that goes into creation.
This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England with additional support from Abingdon Studios.
*The Window Gallery is a new partnership between Abingdon Studios and Blackpool Council as an iteration of a former Culture Shops Project (est. 2013/14). With thanks to Heritage Action Zone funding.
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This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
AS_BLP Drawings Series (oil on paper, A3 & A2), 2020
Location of a few Pulham sites in North West England
Title of the document
Pulham sites in Lancashire:
Rivington Terraced Gardens, Bolton
Pulham sites in Lancashire: public parks in Preston
Avenham & Miller Park, Preston
Haslam Park, Preston
Moor Park, Preston
Pulham sites in the North West of England
This month I started to develop a project supported by the Arts Council England, taking place in Abingdon Studios, Blackpool. At the moment I am researching about the Pulham Legacy and visiting Pulham sites in the North West of England. In this post I would like to tell you how I got to know Pulham & Son's remarkable design and architectural work and to share some images and footage from the Coastal Cliff Park, along the North Shore of Blackpool.
It was the end of summer and I was cycling along the promenade and passed through this area known as ‘the cliffs’ in the North Shore of Blackpool, and I was amazed with this monumental mass of artificial rock dominating the view. I immediately thought about Phillyda Barlow's artwork, especially a sculpture I had seen a few years ago at Jupiter Artland in Scotland (click here). She created a kind of monolith using industrial materials, copying the shape of blocks of slate - an ambiguous sculpture that plays with our notions about natural and artificial landscape. What amuses me about the cliffs is that it’s a manmade object, a product of labor and skilled craftsmanship that resembles nature in a very particular way, installed permanently in public space to become part of the landscape. I noticed because of the wear and tear and lack of maintenance, cracks, scraps and other layers of material are visible underneath the surface; and some edges that collapsed were repaired with a different material, changing its original qualities. Also a few pathways throughout the cliffs that linked the lower part of the promenade to the top bit were closed, presumably for health and safety reasons and are now dead end zones.
Upon further research I discovered that the artificial rocks were made with a mixture of materials called pulhamite, created by the firm Pulham & Son and subsequently used to rockify the North Cliffs in 1922-23. I also discovered that during the Victorian and Edwardian era, the company was commissioned to develop around 170 projects in the United Kingdom, including rock gardens, grottos, waterfalls, statues, other architectural ornaments and landscapes spread all around the country.
Recently I visited other Pulham sites in the North West. In the next post I will be sharing my impressions about what I found in those places. More information about Pulham Legancy can be found in the website: https://pulham.org.uk/.