New Sports Centre Commissions Artworks: Fire & Water
Four nationally and internationally acknowledged artists have been invited to create permanent artworks for The White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre, Abingdon's new leisure and sports centre. The artworks - a massive wallpiece based on scientific research, glass panels and inserts, and a stunning glass desktop — are based on themes of fire and water. They have been developed as an integral part of the new building, and conceived and designed to respond to its architecture, site and function. The Vale of the White Horse District Council, the commissioners of this innovative approach to sports centre design, have sought to create a building in which contemporary art and architecture, and science, sport and art, find common ground.
‘The Quiet Sun’International artist partnership Susan Gamble and Michael Wenyon have developed a spectacular artwork from a six month residency at two neighbouring scientific institutions — Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Their research has resulted in an artwork based on a scientific digital image of the sun, taken from a solar spectrum and measured by a satellite instrument designed and built at the Laboratory. This extraordinary work, entitled ‘The Quiet Sun’, uses over 50,000 Italian glass tiles and takes the form of a vast 20m long wall piece for the main wall of the swimming pool.
Glass WorksThe theme of the River Thames has provided the source of imagery in a series of glass works that dominate the foyer area. Jane McDonald’s large, cast glass reception desk top reflects the profile of the river in burnished copper, and links with six glass wall panels, which contain delicately etched images of fish and insects found in the river at Abingdon. These works are complemented by Julia Newbould’s sandcast glass blocks, based on the theme of water, which are backlit by fibre optics and inserted into the foyer walls.
The White Horse Leisure and Tennis CentreThis £10 million state of the art leisure complex opens in March 2002, and has been financially supported by the Lottery Sports Fund, the Lawn Tennis Association and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA). With three swimming pools, an eight-badminton court sports hall, six indoor and ten outdoor tennis courts, squash courts, a large fitness suite and Kids Zone for youngsters, this is the largest project ever undertaken by the Vale of White Horse Council, and will be the County tennis centre for Oxfordshire.
Notes to Editors:Curation and Funding: The programme of art commissions was curated by artist Jane McDonald in collaboration with Artpoint, the regional public art agency, which developed and managed the programme. The Vale of White Horse District Council funded the artworks, and Wenyon & Gamble’s residency and commission has been supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Regional Arts Lottery Programme.
Wenyon & Gamble combine differing backgrounds in art and science. Susan Gamble studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, and the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University; Michael Wenyon studied Physics and Philosophy at Bristol University, and Optics at Imperial College, London. In 1993 they were awarded a prize from UNESCO for their aesthetic development of technology as an art. Their work uses digital photography, holography and other high technology techniques.
Jane McDonald is an established glass artist who has worked on numerous public commissions, often in collaboration with architects and other design professionals. She has also acted as lead artist on large scale building projects, developing a programme of art commissions at Norwich Castle Museum and at Poole Arts Centre. Recent commissions include screens and interior for the Millennium Chapel at Coventry Cathedral, and glass panels for the Biochemistry department at Oxford University.
Julia Newbould creates sand cast and kiln formed glass from layers of fused glass with enamel and metal leaf inclusions. Her work ranges from bowls and plates to screens and wall pieces and she regularly exhibits her work in galleries as well as undertaking commissions for domestic and public settings. Recent commissions have included a window for a medieval house in France and glazed doors for an architect’s office.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority has pioneered the development of nuclear energy in the UK. Its operation at the Culham Science Centre is research based and is responsible for providing the UK’s input to the European fusion programme and for operating the JET (Joint European Torus) facilities, the largest fusion experiment in the world, on behalf of its European partners.
The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, based in Chilton, promotes high quality scientific and engineering research by providing facilities and technical expertise in support of basic, strategic and applied science research programmes. It has close links with the UK universities and researchers from all over the world use the site.
Artpoint is a public art commissioning agency, working with visual artists and craftspeople throughout the Southern region. Its work is characterised by the commissioning of new art work created in response to specific sites, often in collaboration with other creative professionals, from architects and engineers to writers and scientists. Artpoint is core funded by Southern Arts, and aims to extend the contribution art and artists can make to the physical and social environment.
‘I believe this development will take Local Authority leisure facility design and provision into a whole new dimension, and the hugely exciting Public Art commissions are a key element of this.’––Karen White, Project Director, Vale of White Horse District Council
'We are delighted to be part of this collaboration. Art and science have much in common as both are creative activities seeking to push back the boundaries of knowledge and truth. It has been fascinating for the scientists and artists to work together and to see how each interpret the same data'.––Janet Haylett, Education Liaison Officer, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Media Contact/ImagesRuth Charity or Tiffany Black at Artpoint t: 01865 XXXXXX