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Barnshaws creates ‘liquid’ metal curves for Corby heritage sculpture

Corby Train Station

A new stainless steel sculpture to celebrate the heritage of Corby has been fabricated and precision curved by metal bending experts, Barnshaws Section Benders. The ‘Sundew Sculpture’ designed by renowned artist John Atkin, was opened on the 20th January 2017 outside Corby train station, with it’s geometric complexity paying homage to Corby’s steel industry and the town’s passion for music.

The Sundew Sculpture was selected from a shortlist of three potential designs via a public vote, and now takes pride of place welcoming commuters to Corby. It shares its moniker with the Sundew dragline excavator, which operated as part of industry in Corby until 1974. The mix of geometry displayed in the five metre high sculpture aims to reflect the transition of liquid metal into its solid state. Local music groups were also consulted regarding the design, which enables the piece to strike a chord between the flowing of music and metal. Due to the incredibly challenging design of the artwork, main contractors Interkey Fabrications contacted Barnshaws to help realise the project.

While more famous for involvement in large infrastructure projects, Barnshaws also gathers great experience in the fabrication of custom artwork. The Tividale based company has been involved in the fabrication of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Spiral Sculpture in Windsor, Spitfire Island in Castle Bromwich and the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London Olympic Park. Barnshaws prides itself on its range of equipment and quality of work – which allows the company to tackle highly complex fabrication and bending challenges of almost any scale.

The sections required were mostly hollow-type box sections, with dimensions including 150 mm x 100 mm, 120 mm x 80 mm, 200 mm x 100 mm and 160 mm x 80 mm. While not large sections, the range in size, variations in required bending axis and the resulting complexity of the sculpture demanded a highly technical approach.

Various methods were utilised to achieve the desired liquid to solid aesthetic. Some sections were induction bent; others were filled with a low melting point alloy to preserve the section’s internal profile during curving; while a number of associated flat bars were also rolled. Working with stainless steel, which was sourced from Corby, presented Barnshaws with the additional challenge of preserving the surface finish.

Greg North, Commercial Director at Barnshaws elaborated: “Very few companies in Europe would be able to produce a product requiring this level of bending skill. Despite the various approaches we had to take to achieve the desired aesthetic, our range of equipment, capacity and expert engineers meant we could complete the work entirely in-house. For a sculpture that is to mark the cultural and industrial heritage of a community, it was of the utmost importance we delivered the project to the best of our ability. We hope that residents and visitors to Corby enjoy the Sundew for many years to come.”

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