Old Meets New in a National Trust Heritage Site in England
“Large-scale artworks in the landscape—that’s what I’ve been interested in for the past 20 years,” says British artist Steve Messam. Take a closer look at the making of Messam’s Bridged, a temporary installation that ran above the River Skell at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park in North Yorkshire, U.K.
Part of the year-long process of sketches and mock-ups for Bridged, included this CAD rendering.
Inspired by the concept of an architectural folly, even though the work functioned as a bridge, Messam had hundreds of yards of fire-coated scarlet polyester cut and sewn into a spiked skin that was test-fit over its corresponding weight-bearing structure at Stage One, the engineering firm that fabricated the structure’s steel elements.
Technicians on-site at the river worked with a forklift to fit the skin over the structure.
After the bridge was pieced together, it was crane-lifted and swung 90 degrees onto steel grill footings on each side of the river.
Polypropylene rope and elastic shock cord laced into 244 brass eyelets on the skin’s underside helped the installation withstand strong rains and wind gusts.
On view from July to November 2021, Bridged welcomed some 500,000 visitors, who climbed up its birch plywood steps using handrails of brushed stainless steel.
Sited near a Georgian iron bridge formerly on the grounds, this one was 49 feet long and 30 high, and installation took five days.
Bridged is part of “These Passing Things,” Messam’s three-piece series that included Spiked, on the 800-acre Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park, a combined UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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