NDM Research Building, Oxford
Artist: Nicky Hirst
Client: University of Oxford and the Arts Steering Group
Manufacturer: IP Surfaces Ltd
Supplier: Hardscape Products Ltd
Darren Nash, the Associate Head for Academic Support & Finance for the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford commissioned the project to animate an existing blank wall at the university. Darren is also a poet and he wanted an artist to interpret one of his poems called Fellowship. The role of the artist was to work with the client to design and implement an ‘art piece’ next to the entrance of the NDM building.
The artwork set out to take the form of a text based visual art and the brief was defined as not to compete with the existing ‘Origin’ art installation in the nearby square.
The Fellowship poem was broken up, repeated and arranged into blocks of words. The words became objects or data, adjustable entities placed within the limits of the space to create new configurations or coded formulas of repetition in research as well as referencing the many layers, which are apparent in the surrounding architecture of the NDM building.
Hardscape were brought in for their expertise with artwork in hard surfaces. No one had collaborated with each other before and no other companies were willing to take on the risk of a composite stone/concrete wall without doing a sample test on the actual surface – It was a one-chance situation.
IP Surfaces were able to etch the 412 letters on to a 5.5m wide x 4.14m high wall in-house and install in 6 sections on site. It has created a stunning talking point on campus for the students and researchers as well as bringing some texture and interest to an otherwise blank feature wall next to the entrance of the NDM building of the university.