The Thrilling Unveiling of the eco-conscious Quercus Edition
Quercus Edition 3m tall, an edition of 8.
Sculpture construction system which is durable and kinder to the planet. December 2021
Quercus Edition explores the characteristics of the oak leaf, which has both Golden Section and Fibonacci proportions, and the sculptures rotate through the golden angle as they rise upwards optimistically. They embody spiritual and geometric principles which influence our lives.
The pair is a 3m tall version of Quercus, which is 6m tall. Both the construction system and the finish of the glass skin differ from the original. The original was created in 2008 but received a new glass skin in 2021, during the lockdown, which has now led to the creation of an edition.
The sculptures celebrate the natural world and are an example of how we must try to mindfully manage our resources, taking care to check the whole picture of how things are made and what they are made from. It’s a continuing conversation.
Quercus Edition is constructed using a system developed to be both extremely long-lasting and kinder to the planet than alternatives. It employs a stainless steel welded frame, wire mesh, a high quality, resilient render containing marble dust, and finally a recycled glass surface. Sculptures using this system have been commissioned by private clients and a school, for exterior positions. It was first successfully shown in 2017.
I am sharing the methods I have developed to further the conversation and progress.
I begin by creating a model, a wire sketch that I draw up to scale and full size. A structural engineer compiles a report and advises on fabrication specifications. The stainless steel frame is welded, and stainless steel mesh is cut with wire cutters according to the 1:1 drawing template. Plywood profiles for each section are created to monitor how the form outline corresponds to the drawing and serve to check the edition is consistent. Mesh fins are wired to the frame longitudinally and then latitudinal wire mesh reinforcements are added.
Once a sound structure exists, a fine stainless steel mesh creates a surface onto which an extremely strong exterior render which contains a high proportion of marble dust is plastered. The whole is repeatedly checked with the profiles to ensure it corresponds.
This 3m edition is different from the 6m tall Quercus because of the construction but also in the surface finish. Glass enamels add colour to the glass skin incorporate sand, add texture, and reference the origins of glass, which can appear far removed from the natural, elemental material from which it is made. Usually, this glass surface is applied so that the colour is interior, against the sculpture, and therefore is viewed through the glass, so has a highly reflective face. Quercus Edition has a glass skin with enamel on the exterior, appearing warmer and richer, less reflective. We are surrounded by highly polished window glass, perfect and industrial, but glass is an alchemical transformation of crushed rock, quite magical and magnificent, and the colour treatment suggests these origins.
Above Quercus Edition in progress, the tesserae are smaller, textured and less regular than Quercus
The glass used in these sculptures is recycled, sometimes from a green house or other glass donated for this purpose. The glass enamels create a permanent colour, in effect a layer of coloured glass, which won’t fade or change. The firings take place to coincide with the drying stage of the sculptures, to assist this process. Once cooled, the glass is cut into pieces and mosaiced onto the sculptures and then the gaps are grouted with the same flexible adhesive, into which sand is added.
Photos by David Bird