8ft high and rising | Artist Rebecca Appleby (Photo: The Culture Vulture)
Artist REBECCA APPLEBY brings a little bit of pop art brilliance to the heart of Kirkstall. Words: NEIL MUDD
Last Friday evening, in a ceremony at the mercy of the wind and the rain, gifted ceramic artist Rebecca Appleby unveiled new art work Latent Power, a deconstructed water wheel fashioned in bright yellow welded steel.
At around eight feet tall, it is a nod to the outsize constructions of American pop artist Claes Oldenberg I suggest. “I’ll take that,” the 40 year old artist says with a smile. She is great admirer of Oldenberg’s work, as well as abstract artists Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, and sculptors Sir Anthony Caro and Richard Deacon.
Commissioned by East Street Arts as part of its A City Less Grey programme, Latent Power‘s bright yellow scheme was fully intentional. “It’s quite an optimistic colour,” says Rebecca, “but it’s also the colour of industry which is a very important part of the local area’s history.”
Rebecca undertook extensive local consultation before embarking on the work. She has strong ties to the area, growing up nearby and visiting her grand-parents who used to live around the corner. The industrial metalworking traditions of Kirkstall Forge are represented by Latent Power‘s insistent skeletal geometry.
The work is a departure for the Holmfirth-based artist who is known for her striking ceramic pieces and abstract paintings. However, she would love to explore working in metals further, she says. “I had a go at some welding, but because it was going into a public space I thought it best to get some help to make sure it was structurally sound.”
I ask if she minds the idea that people might be tempted to clamber all over it. Not at all apparently. “We’ve had six grown men hanging off each arm, so I know it’s safe,” she says. “I just hope people don’t decide to damage the paint finish, but it is powder-coated so it’s pretty tough.”
Latent Power can be found outside Kirkstall Leisure Centre. It is a splash of colour bringing a vibrant sense of fun to the heart of the community.
Find out more about Rebecca Appleby here.
East Street Arts’ A City Less Grey programme has delivered murals, sculptures and artworks in prime city centre locations, as well as commissions in local communities. Find out more here.
Interview with ESA’s co-founder and director Karen Watson.