A porcelain and glass sculpture depicting the atomic structure of ice. A response to the site of Perott’s Folly, which was once used at a weather station. A series of photographs to accompany the piece are available here and a limited edition of 'Ice' can be found here.

Photographs of sculpture by Stuart Beesley.

Irminsul: you are lost

“Unreason possesses the folly, it stands brittle and always wrong with the Landscape”
(Jones, Barbara)

Whenever possible I prefer to respond to a site, giving my work a greater resonance and sense of 'birthplace'. The meteorological history of Perrott's Folly immediately struck a chord for me, exciting my scientific interests. In 1884 the meteorologist Abraham Follet Osler began using the building for weather observations and it became part of one of the world’s first regular weather forecasting service until it fell into disuse as a weather recording station in 1979 . From my first encounter of the Folly, a sense of something seemed to saturate me; only when I reached the roof of the tower, did I realise it was water. There is an obvious architectural similarity to that of a lighthouse, coupled with a spattering of nautical windows which one can easily imagine peering excitedly from a boat of a great research expedition, delighting in undiscovered wonders. The cool blue-green colours which accent the structure only emphasise the icy, liquid sensation one experiences throughout the spiralling wonder.

The three states of water as a solid, liquid and gas, was my first point of exploration and I felt, an apt one. The Folly has been many things to many people in its history, an ever changing structure effecting and being effected by the environment it occupies, similar to water being in a constant state of flux.

My research into platonic solids, polyhedra, Kepler's tightest packing of spheres, symmetry and fractal branching led me to focus on water at its atomic scale. The focus of the work became water in its solid state, ice; this provided, in one sense, such rigid structure (certainly atomically), yet allowed for some of the most complex, fragile and stunningly beautiful displays of geometry nature offers us.

The incongruity of a firm structural sculpture representing the molecular structure of ice and the ethereal yet compelling nature of ice, seems to be a fitting response to Perrott's Folly. The Folly possesses a transient nature and meaning, yet its future is not certain with regards to its purpose or even existence. 'Ice' as a sculpture reflects the poignancy and mystery of the Folly.

As a result of my work for the Folly I have developed a true obsession with the phenomena of ice; it has succeeded in both deepening my understanding of geometry and structure in nature, as well as throwing up a myriad of questions and paths of exploration I can only hope to come close to satisfying.

Perrott's Folly occupies an unusual position in Birmingham’s topography. Built in 1758, the folly once stood dominant on Edgbaston’s skyline, overlooking a vast park owned by the wealthy landowner John Perrott. Acting as a status symbol and place of escape, the folly would have been a source of fascination and intrigue for
Edgbaston’s inhabitants. However, as the parkland was increasingly consumed in the height of the industrial revolution the folly became dislocated from its raison d’être. Now finding itself a casualty of Birmingham’s sprawling urbanisation, the folly stands as an anomalous relic in a city strewn with the architectural revisions gone by from Chamberlain to Madin. “Irminsul, You are Lost” seeks to consider the potential capacity of the building through re-conceiving the folly as an axis mundi. The artists have each produced new works which explore the incongruity of the buildings placement and past by opening up the tower as a platform for vertical play.

Artists: Alexis Soul-Gray, Eleanor Pearce, Alexandra Carr, Fiona Eastwood, Gaetan Sigonney,
Caroline Underwood, Hannah Turner Duffin, Elizabeth Jordan.
Texts contributed by Charlotte Levine and Jonathan Orlek.