Teva Victor Plinths

Orbis Conservation were commissioned by Eykyn Maclean Gallery to design and produce two plinths for large-scale stone sculptures by contemporary artist Teva Victor. The scope of the project was to consult with the artists and gallery on the design aesthetic for each plinth, provide designs for sign off, and manufacture plinths with the structural capability of safely holding and displaying the heavy sculptures. In addition to this, one sculpture was to be displayed permanently outside within the grounds of a sculpture collection, whilst the other was to be designed for internal use, first on display within the gallery and then moved to the new collection for more permanent display inside.

Orbis began by consulting with the artist on how they felt they wanted to display the sculpture. The artist was keen for the plinths to have a natural stone finish and had very specific ideas on the overall heights and widths that the two plinths should be. These were all considered when Orbis first produced the design mock ups of the plinths, adhering to the dimensions Viktor had stipulated as closely as possible, and designing plinths to be able to accommodate the natural stone finish.

The principle for the plinths in both cases was to have a structural stainless-steel plinth onto which the natural stones were clad. Stainless steel was used to ensure that no degradation of the steel would occur in the exterior setting through water ingress and weathering cycles. Mild steel would potentially cause staining as it rusted, which would leach into the stone and be extremely disfiguring aesthetically. The natural stone slabs were designed to be installed after the installation of the structural element, essentially hanging in place through hidden dowels to allow differential movement between the metal and the stone during heating and cooling of the materials in different weather patterns.

Following consultation with the artist, curators and clients, Orbis supplied initial designs in the form of mock ups. Subsequently we held a design meeting with our client to decide on the exact materials for cladding in each case. Orbis supplied natural stone samples and after deliberation the client decided on a Carrara marble for the interior works and a more muted limestone for the exterior work.

Once materials were decided, we were able to commence the design process, fabricating final designs for the client. We employed structural engineers Fenton Holloway to help ensure that the plinths were structurally capable of supporting the sculptures safely. The interior plinth was of particular concern as it was required to be freestanding and not mechanically fixed into the floor. We needed to understand what the footprint of the base should be to successfully support the sculpture without risk of toppling.

We then finalised designs and materials for cladding and the plinths were installed. This case study highlights the importance of consultation, materials, and structural engineering in the production of art displays. We are pleased that the resulting plinths not only enhance the visual impact of Victor's sculptures but also ensure their long-term preservation and stability.

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