Tom Price Kyneburgh Tower & Wall
Art Design Sculpture Installation
KYNEBURGH TOWER & WALL
Gloucestershire County Council, in partnership with Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company (GHURC) commissioned Tom Price to create two permanent public artworks to reflect the area’s fascinating history, as part of the Economic Linkages public realm project. The scheme, curated by Ginkgo Projects, comprises a 16 metre high tower and a 30 metre long wall.
The inspiration is St Kyneburgh, a Saxon princess who, according to medieval legend, ran away from an arranged marriage. Intent on serving God, she fled to Gloucester and was adopted by a baker whose wife killed her out of jealousy and threw her body down a well. The well became known as St Kyneburgh’s Fountain, a place of pilgrimage famous for its healing powers.
When approached from a distance, the tower, though made of steel, appears to move up and down. Its open-slatted structure is designed to create a moiré, or watered-silk effect. The outer shape is based on an undulating body of water, as if poured from above, and represents the fall of Kyneburgh’s body down the well. The tower’s inner surface gently spirals upwards, like a rising body of steam, and recalls the ‘tunnel of light’ effect those with near-death experiences often describe. Its apex is a perfect circle of light, which suggests the wellhead, Kyneburgh’s ascent to heaven, and a saintly halo.
The wall lies along the line of the city’s Roman wall, which continues the theme of fluidity, in this case through time, and the changing nature of the site over the centuries.
The tower tells the story of one girl’s journey from life to death and beyond and is intended to be both a spectacle and a place for quiet contemplation. The fluid form of the wall serves as a reminder that the ancient line upon which it sits has not changed, and yet everything above ground is temporal and changing. Both artworks function like a metaphysical sundial. They point to the invisible histories we rarely seek out, but which permeate the landscape around us.
Materials: Mild steel
Location: Kimbrose Square, Gloucester
Completion: August 2011
Photography: Daniel Clements