City Design Group, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and Aardman present new public art by Mark Titchner

City Design Group, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and Aardman present: ‘A Naiad’, a new public art work by Mark Titchner.

A new permanent art work for Bristol’s M Shed by Turner Prize Nominee

As part of the planning process for its new HQ on Bristol’s historic Harbourside, Aardman elected to fulfil its Section 106 obligations with a public art commission. Bristol City Council’s City Design Group has been working closely with the artist, David Sproxton, Peter Lord and Aardman Animation staff over the past five years to develop the work.  The artwork, which is entitled, A Naiad, marks a welcome return to Bristol for British artist Mark Titchnerwhose 2005 solo exhibition at Arnolfini led to a nomination for the 2006 Turner Prize.

 A Naiad,  is made from a redundant piece of machinery, a Victorian reduction gear, which the artist found in the store at M Shed, and which was earmarked for disposal. The reduction gear, which used to drive the Iron Duke – a rubber calendering machine at Spencer Moulton & Co – weighs around 1.5 tonnes and has been used to form the basis of a hybrid machine, which has been re-engineered to represent Bristol’s dominant feature: water. A set of polished steel discs – referring to the tidal lunar cycle – move through an accelerated sequence symbolising the violent tidal motion of the New Cut. The Floating Harbour’s fixed yet tensioned stasis is depicted in the form of a circular pool which is mechanically vibrated, providing a constantly shifting surface.  Together these elements present Bristol’s two key water bodies in their contradictory states in a work that is parttidal clock and part absurdist machinery.

The City Council’s Museum Service has supported the work A Naiad by making it part of its permanent collection at M Shed, in a remarkable story of transformation from redundant industrial relic to contemporary art work.

Julie Finch, Head of Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives, is delighted with the piece, she said that: “M Shed is a perfect place for display of Mark Titchner’s iconic piece, located next to the harbourside, and drawing on the industrial past, A Naiad provides a thought provoking contemporary perspective on the past which will pose questions for our visitors around a past industrial glory, the disposable society of today and the future of the harbour in the city.”

David Sproxton, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Aardmanadded: “The starting point for A Naiad was the construction of Aardman’s new HQ building, located on what is known as Spike Island, a piece of land situated between the New Cut and the Floating Harbour. It was the contrast and dynamics of these two water bodies that the world renowned artist Mark Titchner took as his inspiration. Mark has produced a wonderful work of art which expresses the intriguing relationships between water, time, rhythms and myths, using a combination of mechanics, electronics and inspired design. His work also expresses a sense of history, bringing together the old and new industries of the area; the shift from the mechanical to the digital, and from tangible things to virtual things. We’re all still making things, we’re just doing it in a different way and A Naiad expresses this very well. It has been both a great pleasure and great fun working with Mark on this commission and we at Aardman are very proud and pleased with what Mark has produced.”

Mark Titchner, artist, said: How does an artist approach making a work that depicts violent tidal flux and tensioned stasis?  That celebrates the fluidity of water but also the mechanistic worm drive, tick tock of cold, hard iron?  ‘A Naiad’ is a kind of folly, a 1.5-ton industrial beast, a gentle giant controlled by modern electronics that mimics the moon via the tides and vibrates tiny particles with sound to depict liquid motion.  Everything depicting something that it is not just as the metallic beast becomes a beautiful, mythical water nymph: ‘A Naiad’.” 

As part of the launch of ‘A Naiad’, a number of films works by the artist will be shown on the 12th April (5.00 – 6.30pm) and during Harbourside Arts Weekend which runs from 3rd – 6th May (every 20 minutes). The films will be shown on the BCC Big Screen at Millennium Square, free of charge and include two multi-dimensional digital works entitled ‘Love and Work’, and ‘UP!’, and Fear of Life’, featuring a couple or ‘unit of emotional support’, silhouetted against a bright sunset of propaganda text.

‘A Naiad’ has been curated and produced by Aldo Rinaldi, Senior Public Art Officer (Bristol City Council), in partnership with Aardman, working with a steering group including Julia Carver, Curator of Visual Art (Bristol Museum & Art Gallery); Katy Hallet, Public Art Commissioner (Sustrans); Lucy Badrocke, Assistant Curator: Exhibitions (Arnolfini); Alf Perry (Perry Consulting) and David Sproxton and Peter Lord and others from Aardman

A programme of events, including talks and tours will accompany the exhibit.

See www.bristol.gov.uk/museums for latest information

Add clips to the playlist by clicking the stars