These works consist of a monumental scale face and hand both emerging from the ground plane and placed in such a way as to infer the presence of a mostly buried giant figure. The hand and face are made of hundreds of naturally rusting steel plates assembled in a way that suggests the riveted plate construction of old machinery or steam ships.
To me this type of rusting platework is a very potent symbol of obsolescence. It reminds me of the abandoned heavy machinery that litters the post-industrial landscape of my native northern England. I felt that by making figurative pieces in this way, they might speak metaphorically of the obsolescence of humans. Steel seems especially relevant in this context because it has associations with strength and by being rusted, speaks of once great strength now decayed and abandoned. The gesture of the hand and expression on the face suggest an unconscious state, asleep or dead.
A small ship is presented cradled in the giant hand. In this context, the tiny ship has overtones of the tin plate toy boats that were popular children's toys in the early part of the twentieth century. I feel that the man's hand cradling the child's toy alludes to boyhood expectations of employment in heavy industry and the generation of workers that grew up to find the industry gone.
Age of the Machines was exhibited at Sculpture by the Sea 2004, 28 October - 14 November, Bondi Beach, Sydney. The two components were sold to private collections at the end of the show.
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