Heavy Plant

I wouldn’t normally get excited about some heavy plant in the middle of car park. I wouldn’t normally exclaim in surprise on discovering that it had been sitting there quietly, unnoticed by me for 20 years. But this wasn’t just any old heavy plant.

Finding it was a chance discovery. My legendary powers of navigation had taken us slightly off course (nothing new there), when the sharp eyes of Mr TLC spotted something lurking in the middle of a car park. Obviously we had to investigate. We weren’t disappointed. I love this kind of stuff.

Heavy Plant - by David Kemp

Heavy Plant is a sculpture by David Kemp. It’s made from lots of reclaimed industrial bits and pieces, most of which were “collected from the scrapyards and wastelands of that which was once Attercliffe”. It dates from 1988 (according to the plaque at the site) or 1989 (according to Sheffield Hallam University’s public art archive) and was commissioned for the Science Park. The sculpture consists of a brick built ‘furnace’ at the base, out of which a bronze mosaic egg protrudes, then a wonderfully extravagant steel and glass thistle-like plant shoots up from the egg.

Heavy Plant - by David Kemp Heavy Plant - by David Kemp Heavy Plant - by David Kemp

A furnace, steel, glass, salvaged materials, photo opportunities galore – what’s not to like? I think my favourite little detail is the little dragon-like creature, made from a red hook. So simple, but so nice.

Heavy Plant - by David Kemp

It’s not surprising that this has escaped my notice for so long, it’s tucked inside a small car park on Howard Lane, not exactly on the beaten track. We were there on Saturday afternoon when the place was deserted, so we admitted ourselves to the car park for a closer look. However I suspect that it might not be so easy to get a close-up view during normal working hours when the car park is in use.

8 comments to Heavy Plant

  • Not sure if my comments are being filtered off somewhere?

    I’m sure I made one about this post related to Kemp and his rather fine ‘The Navigators’ in Hays Galleria.

    Re posting this variant here to see if it sticks or gets mashed.

  • three-legged-cat

    Actually, I had exactly the same thought yesterday when I wanted to look for a picture of The Navigators, but I couldn’t quite remember the name, so I thought I’d check your comment. Except it wasn’t here, which was strange. Eventually I twigged – your comment is actually here. đŸ™‚ (BTW, I only filter comments that are blatantly spammy – not yours Rashbre.)

    I like The Navigators, it looks good in pictures. Hays Galleria is somewhere that we always seem to scuttle past at great speed on our way to somewhere else, we must take time to look when we are there. Mind you, that might some time away (probably next January) – we had to cut back on our jaunts to London once Mr TLC became a man of leisure.

  • I look out at this sculpture from my desk. There are often groups of people who wander up with their cameras – we had a group of around a dozen this morning. Made me wonder where they have heard about it.

    Anyway, don’t be shy and don’t feel you have to wait until the place is deserted to come and have a look.

  • I was delighted to stumble across this article,when I was surfing the net. Its quite a while since I made the Heavy Plant in what was then called “Sheffield Science Park.
    At that time Steelworks & Little Mesters shops were being pulled down on a daily basis to make car Parks. The mighty works in Attercliffe had been reduced to rubble, twisted steel & dead cats in sacks. I thought I might reverse the trend, & build something about these lost industries of Sheffield in a Carpark?
    The sculpture is made (as much of my work) from discarded Industrial scrap,& found objects. It relates to the “alchemy” of steel making,& perhaps might look a little like a large “industrial weed” itself?
    I,m very pleased to find it is still standing, despite the very great need for more carparking space.
    Thers lots of PIX of this & many other sculptures on my webste http://www.davidkemp.uk.com. Please visit & have a look.

  • Lois Lindemann

    Hi David, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. (Can’t believe I’ve only just spotted this comment – sorry!) I love the sculptures shown on your site – it is well worth visiting!

  • Lois Lindemann

    Mr TLC and I took my Mum to see this when she visited us a couple of weeks ago. I think she was a little surprised to be heading into a car park in the fading light, but ‘Heavy Plant’ looked great against the evening sky. She loved it, obviously.

    We’d been chatting about the way Sheffield had changed since she first brought me here, driving a car filled with all my worldly possessions back in 1989. There were a lot of derelict places at the time, many of which are now transformed. Sometimes I focus on the perpetual building site in my home city (but that’s true everywhere) and forget about how amazing the changes are.

  • Lindrick Lad

    Presumably you are now aware that this sculpture is now threatened with demolition.
    However Sara Hill has started a campaign in an attempt to get it relocated.