Tale of a Rooftop Commission

The installation from the balcony
The installation from the balcony

The idea of commissioning an artist to make a unique artwork is very appealing, but very few people have the confidence to take that step. Dale Idiens shares how it feels to take that step.

Long an admirer of Frances Priest’s magisterial ceramic forms, but lacking the necessary house room to display them to full advantage, I found myself one day talking to her about the possibility of creating a work for our rooftop terrace.

Fran was quite clear that her ceramic works could not withstand the changes in temperature that an external piece would endure, but remarked that she had already been thinking about experimenting with the possibilities of concrete, and so a commission was born.

Fast forward two years, while Fran went to Thailand for twelve months and then returned to the commission with a group of design ideas.  The first were vividly coloured, exuberant flowerings of her visual experiences in the Far East.  My partner and I were blown away, but couldn’t see ourselves living with these, so Fran came up with a completely different set of designs, this time based recognisably on the forms of her stoneware practice, and one of them was right for us.

Shiftintersect by Frances Priest
Shiftintersect by Frances Priest (Photo by Shannon Tofts)
Installation by Frances Priest at The Scottish Gallery
Installation by Frances Priest at The Scottish Gallery

 

A process of site visits, measurements, photographs and discussions (including agreement on the fee) resulted in the completed artwork. It is made of cast Jesmonite (resin layered with fibreglass to lighten and strengthen), aluminium and granite aggregate, and was installed with the crucial technical expertise of artist Steve Dale.

View from inside the flat to the balcony
View from inside the flat to the balcony

The piece looks as if it has always been there, the colours and shapes reflecting those inside the living space, and we feel delighted to have Fran’s very first external work.  A successful commission is a joy in itself, of course because the piece is unique to you and to your tastes and environment, but also because of the satisfaction of sharing in the process, and observing professional designers at work, doing what they do best, which is finding solutions to problems.

 


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