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Blue Obelisk - 2012 - [sold]

A unique geometric sculpture, hand-made from beautiful blue/grey fine-grained sandstone, quarried in Yorkshire.

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Overall height: 76". Pedestal: 23.5" x 23.5" x 6".

Intellectual Property Office registered design no. 4027010

See below for a twelve foot version which is a current work in progress.

This obelisk is an exploration of some simple but strange transformations of geometric forms. Viewed from the side, the top section appears to have three perfectly straight edges. As one moves around the sculpture, two of these edges gradually transform into sinuous curves while the third remains straight. As one moves further around to the front, one curve is lost to view, to be replaced on the other side with a straight edge. The cross-section of the base of the obelisk is a perfect diamond which twists anti-clockwise and transforms into a rectangle, which then starts to twist clockwise to return to a perfect diamond again at the top. Two of the four edges start with a dihedral angle of 60° at the base, which transform to 90°, and then gradually back again to 60° at the top. Similarly, the other two edges gradually vary between 120° and 90°. Viewed from below, the top surface, which is the only perfectly flat surface of the sculpture, appears as if it were the top face of a cube or a cuboid viewed from above, which is strangely unsettling to the eye and to the intellect.

Daylight loves this obelisk. The twisting surfaces orientate themselves towards the sunlight in strange and subtle ways. Sometimes there is a sharp delineation between light and shade, and at other times light very gradually changes to shade on a surface.

The rationale in presenting these transformations is primarily to delight the eye and the touch with an object that is sensual and classically beautiful. A secondary reason to present them is that they seem to challenge our subconscious preconceptions about what artefacts and our built environment should be like. Many of us have been raised in a built environment where surfaces are mostly flat, corners of buildings are mostly square and straight lines always remain straight. We seem unaware that any other logic of geometric construction could exist, which is strange as I imagine that man’s earliest attempts at home building were far more organic and flowing than those of today. Our eyes seem finely tuned to detect even very slight warps in surfaces and sometimes we react to such a surface negatively – surely evidence of poor workmanship? And yet this warped obelisk is pleasing to look at and to touch.

Is there an architect out there interested in the design? Will we one day see just such a sky-scraper rising and twisting into the air above one of our cities?

The form of the obelisk is essentially a plastic one; a form we would associate with materials that can be heated and deformed by twisting or moulded like metal or glass. When used in stone, the form surprises the viewer and makes the obelisk seem a very curious and, perhaps, alien object.

The Hillside Quarry Obelisk - a work in progress.

In collaboration with Roger Hunt of Hillside Quarries, Thurlstone, we have finished, but not yet erected, a version of the blue obelisk twice the size which will reach a height of twelve foot. Both of these obelisks are in two parts fixed together with stainless steel pins and resin, and are finished and polished to an exceptional standard.

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The two sections of the twelve foot obelisk under construction by Jed Trotter, stonemason
at Roger Hunt's Hillside Quarry, Thurlstone.
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We are making this obelisk from local fine-grained sandstone. When wet, the veining in the stone becomes remarkably beautiful, and as the surfaces warp their textures transform, making them a sensual experience.

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The wet surfaces become like mirrors when viewed obliquely. In the picture below, the obelisk is transformed by the reflections of the yellow machinery surrounding it. Erected in a landscape, the wet top of the obelisk will reflect the sky, and may well seem like a shining finger pointing upwards.

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© JIM MILNER 2022 • • 01226 763124