We are thrilled to be supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, as we continue to develop our response to the impact of Climate Change on artistic and creative organisational practice.
Our research programme intends to develop sustainable and novel processes across our organisational and creative practices, to both minimise our contribution to climate change whilst in turn ensuring a climate change resilience. We have received funding for a specific area of this research – How do we sustain the art of bronze casting in the face of climate change?
Please find further details of our proposed research activity below.
Dec 2019 – Nov 2020
SPACER is building a new studio. Its interdisciplinary team of artists, architects and engineers, are currently developing the concept design, which proposes 800sqm of space devoted to creativity, fine art production and education, which in turn will create new jobs and education opportunities. Interdisciplinary spaces will be installed, from sculpture and fabrication facilities, digital technologies to a community laboratory. This is a much needed creative space within a significant area of deprivation in the UK – some of which being in the top 10% worst deprived.
At the heart of this project is both a bronze casting foundry which we have run for over 15 years and sustainability. In the face of the climate emergency and the urgency now apparent to change our approach to the production of artwork (and of course manufacturing in general), SPACER is asking the question –
How do we sustain the art of bronze casting in the face of climate change?
We want to encourage new thinking in the production of sculpture and ensure bronze casting’s viability in our uncertain climate future, by repositioning it as a process that could help combat it, rather than contribute to it.
Through a period of interdisciplinary research, SPACER would like to explore the potential for and design a model of sustainable bronze-casting, in the face of climate change.
The team want to undertake a period of in-depth research to not only develop a model in which the bronze-casting process can be carbon neutral, but also a model where the energy of the process (through kiln cooks and furnace firing) is harnessed and stored to provide free energy to the immediate local community (the studio is situated right next to a school).
This research will then be published and delivered through relevant networks across all disciplines, as well as then being physically implemented within a sustainable studio, becoming a demonstrable model of sustainable bronze casting.
We are unaware of anyone doing this research, and believe this is the necessary future of foundries.
THE RESEARCH ACTIVITY
SPACER has provisionally planned the interdisciplinary teams’ research activity over a year to include the following:
- To meet and develop in detail the research brief, aligning the energy and sustainability targets, aspirations and architectural intent.
- To conduct a thorough survey of existing foundry equipment and technical performance requirements across the fine art casting industry. This will include visits to other fine art bronze casting foundries across the UK, and understanding in detail the differing models employed i.e. ceramic shell and investment casting.
- To conduct a survey of any work done in this area (none is known, but the grant would enable some proper time to be allowed for this activity).
- To meet at SPACER, to see the existing studio and foundry, and understand the existing utility provisions and other project constraints and opportunities (energy storage and energy sharing with nearby buildings) whilst obtaining existing utility provision information from utility providers.
- To develop and confirm the brief as it relates to the mechanical and electrical engineering design (e.g. occupancy, noise levels, temperature, ventilation rates etc.)
- To develop mechanical and electrical engineering design options to meet the requirements of the project, including system types, ability to meet noise criteria, energy use and sustainability implications, and physical space requirements
- To test the design against their activities and requirements as a fine art bronze casting foundry.
- To confirm preliminary engineering design information to allow a cost consultant to prepare a cost plan.
- To estimate the likely utility requirements of the proposed design (power, water, gas etc.) for comparison with the existing supplies.
- To provide designer risk assessment.
- To test the model using through sustainability workshops. This is a flexible framework to present sustainability options; criteria typically include materials, water use, energy use etc. and options range from a minimum standard through to pioneering.
- To conduct workshops focussing on the embodied energy of the materials suggested within the model. Material embodied energy can be equivalent to many years of operational energy use and represents a significant proportion of the energy cost of a total “life cycle” of a design.
- To conduct workshops studying and modelling the health and wellbeing of artists who will be using the model and the effectiveness of the model to improve productivity, which is a key part of the wider sustainability agenda.
We will monitor the project by checking our key milestones (above), are met in accordance with the project plan. Success will be measured by the achievement of a theoretical model of sustainable bronze casting, through innovative sustainable engineering, ready to be implemented within our studio.
Success will also be measured by the levels of provable innovation that have been achieved through the process and the audience reached.
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