James and his Ball of Fire Transcript

Duration: 03:26

Standing at the entrance to Close Park you are greeted by this huge stainless steel dinosaur by the artist Mark Jalland. This was once the private home of the Bealey family who ran the local bleach works. The River Irwell fed the works and you can still see one of the gouits running across the park. But why has a large dinosaur appeared here? The artist himself explains:

Artist (00:27)
I was asked to put an art feature in to the entrance area of Close Park and obviously in this case the location had already been defined, this large circle so in a sense it’s the location already gave me a hint as to how I was going to approach this. The nature of the site being so frontal and some how following the lines of the paths down into the park, it suggested to me something triumphal and something very strongly eye catching, both from inside the park but also on the approach to the park.

Narrator (00:56)
Mark worked with the local school children to develop ideas.

Artist (00:59)
I did have an inkling of an idea based on dinosaurs but we felt at the time we needed to explore this a little bit further in consultation with the local school. What we did, we set up a sort of six week series of workshops and then they kind of added their ideas to my initial ideas. Strangely enough when I put out the nature of the site and worked on it with the students, I got suggestions of various things but I got at least six dinosaurs.

Narrator (01:27)
The actual location of the sculpture inspired its scale and subject but it was the areas past that inspired the design and the materials used.

Artist (01:36)
The choice of material, Radcliffe is famous for its paper making industry. It was only quite recently that one of the grand old paper mills closed down but also it was famous for the industrial manufacture of the machines which made the paper. I thought that was quite an interesting connection. The series of workshops I worked on with the students, we worked with some paper that was kindly donated by one of the local paper mills and it really was all about sort of working up through paper as a medium. It’s actually paper craft. A few months previously I’d been in a Japan and the Japanese are very well known for their use of paper craft. There’s a whole sort of series of things that inspired me there, through this paper craft. The actual flat sheet design of it was done on the computer and that’s what interests me too, the combination of some traditional skills but also using the high technology too.

On the manufacture of it, I used a guy called Laurie Harrison who is one of the last remaining Coppersmiths in the country, based in Clitheroe and his skills of sheet metal work really were second to none in really fabricating this piece.

Narrator (02:41)
So, what’s in the name?

Artist (02:42)
‘James and the great ball of fire’ that actually came about putting it up to the school children to put in suggestions. The intention with the ball that he’s holding, although it’s probably a ball, its quite a sort of studded ball, it’s quite a gritty looking ball, I was some how alluding to the idea of the meteorites and possibly that is what led to the extinction of the dinosaurs and it’s slightly rock ‘n’ roll too.

Narrator (03:09)
Mark has carried out many international commissions but has a soft spot for Close Park.

Artist (03:14)
I love the dinosaur one. To make that happen in my head, it was a eureka moment. 

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