During his time at SWS UK, Sapien was drawn to the geometric steel forms and fast moving production of metal slats inside the plant, and the sharp contrast of the slow moving River Lune outside the factory.
Alongside periods of making at the artist’s Sheffield based studio, SWS UK workied in conjunction to realise designs informed by their research and development team and expert workforce, using powder coating facilities and design fabrication.
In residence, the artist spent time observing the making process and being part of the daily conversations and rhythms. Time at the factory also involved exploring the local area – walking the River Lune that meanders through the valley all the way to the Irish sea, almost touching the factory on its ancient journey.
The idea of ‘repetition’ became a central theme. The circular sculpture consisted of hundreds of small steel slats characterising the security shutters and never ending production line, with two overlapping waveforms to symbolise binary relationships of the fast paced factory and slow movements of the river.
Inspired by folkloric stories of the warriors of Manx mythology and the tale of Manann – a warrior known to take the form of a ‘thundering wheel rolling across the landscape’ – Wave Sweeper was an expression of the manufacturer’s place in rural Lancashire and its wider geographic ties, as well as the artist’s practice, informed by the opposing elements of mind and matter, nature and machinery, steel and spirit.
I spent time exploring and several hours on the factory floor watching the staff build the shutters in small teams and enjoyed lunchtimes in the canteen, sat with partners and being part of the daily conversations and rhythms. Wave Sweeper has over 600 small welds and slats to pay homage to the hard working staff and endless production line and is one of the first sculptures I have made completely on my own.
Sapien is the alias and studio of artist and sculptor Steve Anwar, a maker of solid steel sculptures inspired by ethereal weightlessness. Born and raised in Sheffield’s Brutalist Kelvin Flats, he is interested in exposing boundary lines between opposing elements: mind and matter, nature and machinery, steel and spirit. After discovering meditation as an aid to recovery in his own severely debilitating illness, Anwar is also an experienced meditation teacher with 17 years of dedicated practice. Longlisted for the 2023 Aesthetica Art Prize, Sapien’s past clients include Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wentworth Pewter and Taylor Wimpey.
Established in 1985, SWS UK is a Lancaster-based manufacturer of garage doors, roller shutters, and retractable gates. Employing a dedicated in-house research and development team, SWS UK has earned a reputation as one of the industry’s leading manufacturers. Pioneering design and refined production methods have led to a succession of industry breakthroughs that keep SWS UK’s products ahead of the curve. Located in the picturesque Lune Valley, SWS UK employs a workforce of just over 100 at its purpose-built premises. Its diverse product range is made-to-measure and installed nationwide via a network of approved distributors.