In 2019, Operations Manager, Tony Norton, was drawn to a striking piece of artwork in London’s Regent’s Park named ONE Through ZERO.
Images © Morgan Art Foundation Ltd. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, DACS, London 2019.
The monumental piece of work by renowned American printmaker, painter, and sculptor Robert Indiana is a grouping of ten number sculptures. Named ‘ages of man’, the numerals tell the story from birth (1), childhood (2), adolescence to adulthood (3-6), old age (7-9) and finally death: 0. The sculptures are produced in the immediately recognisable Cor-Ten Steel material.
“I was immediately drawn to the large structures”, said Tony who has been Operations Manager at Sotech for 10 years and is a huge Soul Fan.
“I didn’t know at the time but after some research I discovered Robert Indiana was the same artist that created the famous Love Sculpture in Philadelphia. Philly has a diverse and thriving music scene which is well known for R&B and Soul music. This iconic sculpture [shown below] is one of the most recognisable artworks in the world – it’s a piece which is very close to my heart.”
Image © Elizabeth Wake/Alamy Stock Photo
“This piece sat with me for weeks: The style, the finish, the impact it had and how it drew people in. Cor-ten has been used for lots of art work around the globe, the biggest being The Angel of the North. One day I thought: Why not create our own piece of art on the Sotech grounds, something we can all enjoy?”
Inspired by the visually striking work, Tony set about creating Sotech’s very own Regent’s Park inspired design in the style of ONE Through ZERO, re-producing the Sotech’s logo in large Cor-Ten shapes.
Work began in 2019 but due to Covid and other manufacturing commitments, production was delayed. Finally the letters were finished and put into place in January 2022.
“The letters actually face inward to the office building and factory, rather than outward to passer-byers. I wanted this to be something special for the staff to enjoy and see as they looked out the window. I wanted the sculpture to be something the team could sit around in the summer months, and something that could form an interesting backdrop for future team photos.”
“We have planted beautiful spring and summer flowering bulbs around the letters and we can see the shoots appearing already. It’s a powerful reminder that new beginnings, new projects and new experiences are always around the corner”, said Tony.
The sign was produced in the Sotech company font, in Cor-Ten offcuts from other projects. The material was selected because it is strong, easy to repair and is relatively easy to manipulate and shape.
Also know as weathering steel, Cor-Ten develops a patina specific to its surrounding environment, which continuously regenerates when subjected to the influence of the weather, eventually developing a rich, velvety, rust-coloured appearance.
“Cor-Ten is a material we’ve used a lot more in recent years for large scale cladding projects. You can see it in use in River Street Tower in Manchester, Premier Inn in Milton Keynes and Hallam University in Sheffield.
The whole team chipped into the process. The Design department created the patterns to cut all the parts, fabricators Phil Holden, Chris Halliday and Sam Gibson rolled and welded the items. Our longest serving employee of almost 40 years Paul Hood installed the structure.
“I could visualise exactly how the structure would look therefore building it was quite easy”, said Paul Hood, who added: “I have a passion for gardening and I am looking forward to watching the flowers blossom. They will really complement the sculpture. I am really proud to have been involved in the project.”
Tony had the idea to add the cor-ten butterflies to bring the piece alive. “You can see the Cor-Ten weathering more and more as the days go on. It’s really bedding into its environment, adding a really unique feeling to the area.”