Sparclife Bench

Commissioned by a group of school students from Bishops Castle, under the enthusiastic project manager Cait Leech. Working with the participating students from the outset, I was initially requested to design six different maquettes loosely based on the human form after we looked at the sculptures of Henry Moore. The chosen maquette was more abstract but we felt worked well as a bench and and the curves of the human figure in the design. As a team, the group of participating student with Ruth, delivered workshops to the local schools and to the community, who made textured ceramic tiles to be incorporated into the final bench. We also held an open poetry competition and four winning ‘Haiku’s’ were chosen to be stamped into the bricks on the surface of the bench.

Over 7 tonnes of wet bricks, kindly donated by Blockley Brick, were delivered to site and wheeled through the Sports Hall into the store room where the sculptural bench was to be carved. Over the next three months Ruth built the bricks into the shape of the bench and then carved out the form. The team of students joined her regularly to help with each process, learning brick carving skills and sharing the heavy work load. Once carved the whole piece had to be dismantled brick by brick, labeling each brick carefully, and plans of each layer were drawn up ready for the rebuild. There were over 2000 individual pieces in all. The dismantling process took a week.The carved bricks were then transported in five vans across Shropshire to be fired back at Blockleys, then delivered back to site, to start the building of the fired bench. Ruth worked long hours with local brick layer Stuart Dickin, over two weeks to reconstruct the bench brick by brick. It’s a frustratingly slow process even for the most skilled brick layer and not a straight line in site!