Richard III sculpture architects on creating a steel artwork next to Leicester Cathedral

| 29 July 2014

Richard III: Architects Dallas Pierce Quintero on creating new sculpture Towards Stillness within the grounds of Leicester Cathedral

A photo of a steel sculpture with cut out silhouette bits revealing a cathedral and grass
Towards Stillness© Tom Gildon
“Our aim with this piece is to express the events surrounding the death of King Richard III, focussing on key moments and using the space of the silhouette as a canvas for the viewer’s imagination.

The artwork comprises twelve vertical steel plates that feature silhouettes, which depict lifesize representations of King Richard III.

A photo of a steel sculpture with cut out silhouette bits revealing a cathedral and grass
© Tom Gildon
The moments depicted by the silhouettes are based as closely as possible on historical accounts and records. In order to create them, the studio – working with students from Loughborough University Arts – engaged a historical re-enactor to model for them.

The later plates show the King stripped of his armour and are based on drawings by the studio.

The materiality and rise and fall in scale of the steel plates also articulate the different stages of the King’s story.

The plates graduate from a polished stainless steel – evoking King Richard III charging at Henry Tudor – to a brushed steel, a mill finished steel, two increasingly distressed steel plates, and finally to plates that are made from a corten steel with varying degrees of rust.

The last plate rises substantially to express King Richard III being found in the council car park near to the site of the artwork. It is situated so as to point towards the King’s final resting place; the tomb in the cathedral.

This plate also features a list of key words that describe each of the moments expressed by the individual plates: charged, reared, fought, slain, carried, exposed, buried, remembered, lost, sought and found.

Inspired by the gravestones originally located around the cathedral gardens, this contemporary and original artwork relates both to the surrounding Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II-listed buildings and the visitors that will come to the cathedral and gardens.

The silhouettes allow for views through, into and across the gardens and cathedral – a constant reminder that this piece is intended to be understood in the context of the buildings around it.

The steel plates are designed to be read at a human scale and enable visitors to reflect on King Richard III and reimagine the different stages of his journey in a more direct way.

The planting around the sculpture includes tall grasses and marsh plants, adding to the piece by evoking the terrain of a battlefield.

It is very evocative to observe the play of light and shade on the sculpture, highlighting the variation of texture from the reflective to the rich earthy tones of the corten, and picking up the colours of the Cathedral and the newly landscaped surroundings.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a steel sculpture with cut out silhouette bits revealing a cathedral and grass
© Tom Gildon
A photo of people sitting in front of a series of steel sculptures outside a cathedral
© Tom Gildon
More from Culture24's coverage of Richard III:

Experts see Richard III's battle injuries as infirmary remains help create new king skeleton

Richard III: Archaeologist Claire Calver on the search for the King's body in Leicester

Richard III body infected with roundworms, say University of Leicester archaeologists
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I have to say, It wasn't my first choice in the L.C.C. competition. I generally react badly to modern art installations. Having stared at it from several different angles for some time last Saturday I couldn't at all, see what you see in it. Halfway down the row seemed to be a sheet which cut the view in half. However, I recently saw it at night from a distance and the silhouettes looked excellent. Did you intend it to be best viewed at night or is this just a happy coincidence?
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