Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University

David Kemp
‘Heavy Plant’, 1989
Science Park carpark
recycled found industrial material

Science Park carpark. Entrance from Howard Lane. (A-Z p5 5F)

An imaginary furnace apparently erupting a bizarre spray of material, shards of glass and toolmakers offcuts.

Sheffield Science Park, sponsored by M.S.F. A related exhibition was held in a workshop adjacent to the courtyard carpark where 'Heavy Plant' is located. This contained other work made by Kemp using material found on Sheffield's derelict industrial sites and made at the same time as 'Heavy Plant'.

The piece is somewhat obscured by its location in the middle of the carpark in the courtyard visible only from Howard Lane. A happy accident was the effect caused by the painting of double yellow (no parking) lines around the base of the piece. This has provided a form of frame for it which is somewhat felicitatious.

Artist’s Statement (30 November 1988):
"Heavy Plant has been made from the debris collected from the scrapyards and wastelands of that which was once Attercliffe and reconstructed in the centre of a busy car park at the new Sheffield Science Park at Arundel Street. The piece stands eighteen feet high and is built from scrap off-cuts and rejects from the local toolmakers and cutlers, old factory windows and bits of defunct machinery. The bricks come from the Electricity Board Works at Attercliffe Common (currently being reconstructed as a car park it is rumoured).
"I have been asked to explain what it is all about. If I could have put it all into words, it would have saved much building. There are many clues built into it, there for the looking for. But if there is a sum to their meanings, it is more a question than an answer.
"The story begins with alchemy, an ancient art from which all sciences grew. The brick base is the ATHANOR or furnace. Inside elements have been combined to produce the philosopher's egg or stone: from the egg an idea hatches, the Iron Age may begin. The steel plant thrives and grows steadily from Blacksmiths to Bessemers.
"The story of Sheffield is the story of STEEL . Relics from the past are combined and reconstructed in a late Iron Age car park. The 'Heavy Plant' is reflected in the streamlined steel and double-glazed windows of emergent technologies. The past slips into legend, then after legend doubt. Around the 'Heavy Plant' tomorrow is already growing."

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