One of TyneMet’s very own course leaders, who happens to also be internationally renowned, has received a once in a life time opportunity to make history.

John O’Rourke is getting the chance to design and construct a sculpture which will be placed at the end of Hadrian’s Wall national trail at Segedunum to celebrate the history of the region and of the wall.

John O’Rourke is Course Leader of the Foundation Degree in Applied Fine Art Practice, as well as the HND in Art and Design (Fine Art) at The Creative Studios.

John said: “This sculpture is going to be a symbolically meaningful form, marking the end of Hadrian’s Wall. People walking the wall usually do so from west to east. While planning the figure, I thought it best to allude to not only the Roman theme but also the engineering and shipbuilding history of the region. The structure of the sculpture is influenced, in part, by assemblage methods and materials which are found in engineering.

“The name Tectonicus was suggested by me and refers to the way that the sculpture is an architectural (i.e. tectonic) man. Sentius was suggested by Geoff Woodward, the museum director, as it is a real centurion’s name which is engraved on Hadrian’s Wall.”

Both John and Geoff have concealed things, each only known to themselves, within a stainless steel case which is concealed in the top floor of the sculpture. All four interior floors are interconnected, with ladders, and an opening in the first level leads into this network of hidden spaces. John has been doing this in his sculptures since the late eighties.

The method adapted for the sculpture’s creation is known as ‘reverse engineering’. This means that the half scale original form was made from 575 carefully designed components, all of which disassemble. After that each component was copied using AutoCAD. The AutoCAD drawings were then used to cut out all of the parts at double the scale of the original wooden piece.

W D Close, a local family-run engineering and fabrication firm are fabricating the sculpture and John is in the fabrication shed with them two days of the week. The sculpture is made from three tonnes of steel. When the sculpture is unveiled early in 2017 it will be accompanied by an exhibition within the museum – including the artist’s original wooden structure and working drawings and painted panels/canvases, as well as images of the construction of the steel piece at W D Close. 

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