‘New Dawn’: The women’s suffrage artwork for Parliament, part 3/3 – Making the metalwork

The location of the artwork is above the entrance
to St. Stephen’s Hall. And at the turn of the 20th Century, that was one of the main
thoroughfares for women to go through to meet their
MPs and deliver petitions. What I wanted to do was
to create an open portcullis-like structure above the
doorway that the glass hangs on to show that it’s open. That women are there now. And that we can go in
and we are here to stay. I’m Ian Musson. The company
is Musson Engineering Ltd. I work with my son Colin. He and I are the directors
of that company. And, we do specialist
engineering projects. Not run of the mill things,
nor mass production things. In fact, we sometimes joke
that we only do the things that people can’t buy at Tesco’s. It has to be slightly unusual for us to be involved as a rule. And this project is definitely
unusual. We knew that it had to be sub-divided into several different sections because of a number of
different disciplines were going to be involved
in it’s manufacture. To that end, we decided
which pieces were going to be made from aluminium,
stainless steel, and various other things. And also how those were
going to be produced. Having gone though that, we were able to choose a range of subcontractors who’s equipment was best suited to some of those operations like laser cutting, waterjet
cutting, heavy folding, and various other things. My name’s Michael Scott
from Westcut Engineering. We’re currently undertaking
a job on behalf of the House of Parliament sculpture. We are fortunate here to
have a waterjet machine. It cuts with a mixture of water and
sand. We work with a lot of artists
and we find each job is completely
different to the last. So this particular piece we’re using 10mil thick, 6082 aluminium. It’s compiled of 33 individual
pieces. And it’s gonna take us between
10 and 12 hours to produce. The symbol for women is
the circle and the cross. And what I wanted to do was to
reinforce the totality of the artwork
by having many crosses between the glass circles. And that reinforces the whole
symbolism for the women’s movement and the power of women within the
artwork. We are today at J + S
Laser Profiles Ltd. We’ve worked with them
for many years. We prepare the drawings in
fine detail on the computer. The trust between the
two companies is such, that when we send the
computer information through, they don’t literally
have to examine it. They’re able to feed that straight into some of their machinery. So we’ve already done the expression of the coordinates and so on. And they are then able to
feed that to their machinery and use the laser cutters and folders to produce exactly what we require. And this particular project
involved a number of quite difficult forming
and cutting operations. Which they’ve been able
to deal with very well. From the very beginning, we
were both very pleased indeed to be involved it’s a
project we believe in anyway. And we thought Mary’s concept
was absolutely first class. And to try and find a way of
dealing with the engineering, in such a way that in no area
did it adversely affect the artwork or it’s aim. I hope that we’ve, to a degree,
achieved that. Not always easily. We’re here in this warehouse
putting in the temporary installation
of New Dawn. So this is the first time
we see it all together. The temporary installation
is really important because it allows us to
practise the installation. But also, to programme New Dawn because the lighting is something that has to be programmed by the
artist to make sure it’s going to
look like she wants it to. And so we can do it here at leisure before we do the proper installation. Today, we have been putting up the first of the LED panels. Which is a fairly key moment for us to make sure that the wiring
that we’ve put in place is correct and that it works. We’ve got 168 of these panels
to install. And so there are twice
as many wires coming out. And it’s as been a day whereby
we plugged everything in and it all worked the first time
which was pleasing and obviously exactly how we planned. This is a very large piece of art. It’s not just a large painting on
canvas, which are difficult enough to install. But this has got an electricity
supply, computer supply. It’s made of metal and glass. Glass is obviously very fragile. The pieces of metal are huge. These are very long pieces of metal. So trying to get all of that to this very high-up installation
site, way above a doorway, right
at ceiling height at the end of Westminister Hall, is
going to be very challenging. It’s something that we wanna get
right. And so practising here
really allows us to work out all the difficulties
and solve them all. The moment when I realised
that this was actually a piece of art and not just
the technical challenge which I’ve enjoyed doing,
is when I saw all the pieces of glass laid out on the floor. And, just the stunningness of them and comparing it with the
photographs that had inspired Mary back when she was doing
the research for the piece. You suddenly, completely got it. It just made sense. I have been working
with a team of people for the last two weeks
and so we’ve got the structure on the wall now. I started a year and a half
ago with some drawings. Even though it’s always
felt like my piece of work. I’ve had to consult and work
with the metal engineers. And the lighting designer
and different manufacturing processes to actually create this. So, we’ve gone away from the concept and looked at the detail of every nut and bolt has been thought about. It’s the first time
that I’ve been able to see all the parts together. As the build goes on,
I feel more and more relaxed because I’m beginning to see my artwork coming together again. The glass work was fantastic
to see all in position. But then, it’s only when we
got the light sheet behind it and we actually started
putting light through them that the colours are
just so vibrant and lovely and they completely change. And we’ve got five
panels up at the moment. There are 163 more to go. When they’re in place, it’s
just going to be breathtaking. Just can’t wait.
It’s gonna be stunning.

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