Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University

Andy Bell
'Heron Gateway', 1992
Blackburn Meadows
plastic coated wire

A former sewage works and sludge pond at Blackburn Meadows, off Meadow Bank Road. Access to the site is difficult: take Psalters Lane, then Steel Street over the railway and past scrap yards until you reach a bridge over the canal giving access to Deadman's Hole Lane, where the Meadows begin. The area has been redeveloped as a nature sanctuary where Amanda Wray and Johnny White's 'Dragonfly and Damselfly' are also installed in one of the small lakes which have been created for wild life. (A-Z p78 4A)

A heron stands in rushes between smaller scaled smoking chimneys. The composition, seen in silhouette, forms an arch to a gateway to the reserve marked off by a ready-made wire fence. Looking east through the gate, from within the reserve at the time of installation, there was a view of a derelict industrial landscape and the Rotherham skyline. On our latest visit (November 2000) this view has been obscured by the recent erection of several industrial buildings.

Sheffield City Council and Blackburn Meadows Trust.

The piece is both beautiful and matter-of-fact. The nuts and bolts construction is as clear to read as the subject, the regeneration of derelict land. Installation of the piece was delayed for over a year as the ground had to be made safe from escaping gases.
Unfortunately, as the site has been developed, the planned entrance to the nature reserve has been moved. When installed this arch would have formed the gateway to the Nature Reserve. Now it stands above a padlocked gate on a track descending to one side from the beginning of the Reserve and leading nowhere. Surely some thought should be given to re-siting a work of this quality to the current entrance near the canal; this would make the piece more more visible and give it a function again.

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Last updated September 5, 2006