No sting in tale as Scorpion gets go ahead

A striking 14ft high steel scorpion will sit at the entrance to Sheffield Forgemasters – built by the company’s own apprentices and using recycled materials found on the 64-acre site.

Sheffield City Council has granted planning permission for the steel scorpion sculpture to sit at the number two gate entrance on Brightside Lane.

The contemporary sculpture of the predatory arthropod measures four metres high, two metres wide and six metres long and will feature a pair of grasping claws, a narrow, segmented tail in a characteristic forward curve over the back, ending with a stinger.

It was the brainchild of Forgemasters’ chief executive Graham Honeyman and designed by public arts sculptor Robin Widdowson from Gotham-D and involved guest artist Sara Beavan.

It will be made by a team of volunteer apprentices from Forgemasters, headed up by Steel Propeller project director Tony Lyons.

Tony said: “The scorpion will feature a core steel substructure with recycled metal forming the upper layer of the sculpture giving a weathered appearance.

“The installation will be mounted on a concrete foundation and will be illuminated from the base creating a striking display.”

Twenty-one apprentices have volunteered to work on the project which is expected to take four months to complete and will be finished in Spring 2013.

The project has had input from RD 26 Ltd managing director Jesus Talamantes-Silva, fabrication manager Andy Sylvester, welding supervisor Phil Andrews, raw material buyer Steve Reynolds, health and safety managers Pete Webster and Darren Beeden, Steel Propeller engineering director Steve Smith, CAD design draughtsman Glenn Kaye and training officer Rick Franckeiss.

Artist Robin developed the first phase of the project and the apprentice team has already been involved in a number of creative activities involving outdoor team building, an inspirational tour at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and an expedition to Mam Tor observing and recording the landscape.

They have also attended creative workshops including sculpture development with artists Robin and Sara to challenge and support their creative thinking.

Rick Franckeiss said: “This is not just about making a piece of artwork, we are giving the apprentices the chance to take part in a unique team building project that brings everyone together.

“The skills they are picking up apply to their working day significantly including problem solving and innovation. This is really getting them thinking about solutions.”

Forgemasters’ chief executive Graham Honeyman is an avid lover of the arts, said: "We believe the concept of a striking piece of contemporary public art sat on the gateway to our site, will become a real landmark for the city region. The fact that the scorpion will be made by apprentices using recycled materials from our company and manufacturing processes is particularly important."

Robin has already designed two pieces of artwork for Forgemasters – a recycled Pan sculpture which sits just outside the main reception and a copper and stainless steel world map which takes pride of place in Forgemasters’ reception.

He said: “Sheffield Forgemasters is a hugely visionary company and this project symbolises their innovative way of developing their workforce. This iconic artwork is an amazing opportunity for both myself and the apprentices to be involved in that will culminate in a truly creative legacy that I look forward to be working on”.

Robin has been commissioned to design many site specific artworks both nationally and internationally for private businesses, architects and interior designers as well as regeneration organisations and local authorities.

Locally he has produced a gate in Upperthorpe Peace Garden, large notice boards and feature at Walkley’s Millennium Green and all of the interior artwork features at JD Weatherspoons in Barkers Pool.