HA[SOFT]RD


Audio download (mp3) available by clicking here.

The Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award Winner 2013

A site specific commission for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

For her Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award commission, Elpida has made a new work, HA[SOFT]RD, drawing upon the people, history, culture and economy of Middlesbrough – an outdoor sculpture with sound, made for mima’s garden, which will remain in mima’s permanent collection.

Drawing upon Teesside's historical manufacturing, mining and foundry industries, Elpida carried out extensive research in the town. She met and talked to a range of people currently working in those sectors and retired, and visited a range of industrial sites, both economically active such as the William Lane Foundry and those now heritage sites, such as Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum. She recorded the sounds of industrial activity as well as personal stories and anecdotes from people of all ages through a series of workshops and events. Thirteen people provided their memories of living and working in Teesside, while also giving their opinion about the current local economy and their hopes for the future of the area. The recorded sounds and stories can be heard when a visitor passes through the sculpture, immersing them in a wave of messages and anecdotes from Teesside’s past and present. The sound can be also downloaded by clicking on the link above.

Through her research Elpida discovered the filters used in the local foundries. These are made from porcelain, which despite being a fragile material is resistant to the very high temperatures in the foundry.

Formed of industrial parts and materials, the work considers the local economy, and borrows from jewellery for it's overall shape. The filters remind us of pollution, a concern for all major industrial cities, while the accompanying audio provides a personal individual context. While HA[SOFT]RD stands like a machined jewel in the mima grounds, it's also a homage to local people, who have appropriated the pejorative term, smoggie or smoggy for themselves.

As with many of Elpida's works, she asks audiences to enter a space designed to encourage a response. Here the space is small, but the artist has used sound to animate the work, using an imaginative sound scape to emphasise an intimate relationship.

Elpida worked with William Lane Foundry on developing the work William's Jewel which is situated in the cafe. These 'piss casts' as they are known, are splashes and over spills produced during the casting of metalwork. These unintended shapes and forms have been selected by Elpida and remade into hexagonal shapes, referencing the shape of HA[SOFT]RD in the garden, but also certain jewellery pieces in the mima collection. Elpida has elevated these ‘piss jewels’ from a state of rubbish to art works in their own right, celebrating the manufacturing industry in Middlesbrough in general, and the William Lane Foundry's support and contribution to the development of HA[SOFT]RD in particular.

To see more of Elpida’s Middlesbrough's work in progress please visit her blog: blog.elpihv.co.uk

Supporting organisations:
  • William Lane
  • Eurotek
  • MMA Architectural Systems Ltd
  • Damson Audio
  • Ce-Tek
  • TJ Thickett & Associates
  • Sound edit: Paul Blampied
  • mima
  • The Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award
  • engage in the visual arts