Artist David Murphy unveils his stunning sculpture at the Piece Hall

Sculptor David Murphy. 'Picture: Charlotte Graham
Sculptor David Murphy. 'Picture: Charlotte Graham

The artist behind the steel sculpture at the Piece Hall hopes his work celebrates the heritage of the historic building.

David Murphy, originally from Newcastle, has produced the huge structure, which is 17 metres long, and eight metres wide, and deliberately rises up to chair height to encourage people to sit on it.

The sculpture includes 1,500 bolts, 102 individual modules and weighs just over a ton - about a third less than a Ford Fiesta.

David said: “We’ve been building it since mid-September, and production was pretty solid until Christmas.

“It’s a big piece, there are a lot of parts, and everything had to be pretty accurate, which was challenging.

“One of the big motivations was to respond to the history of the Piece Hall, its textile trading history.

“It fits very well with my wider work, because I’m interested in textile history.

“The notion of bringing a picnic blanket in felt like a nice way to think about a sculpture in public space. Quite socially-minded, it’s a space where people gather and meet each other.

“Although it’s made of steel it does suggest soft material, the way it’s got the gentle curves.

“It’s literally a magnified textile weave, as if you’re looking at a piece of cloth under a microscope.

“It feels like it resonates on a few different levels, and I think it’s accessible enough for anyone to understand it.

“I hope it celebrates the history of the Piece Hall, reminds people that this amazing building was a cathedral to cloth.

“I also hope they enjoy it as a playful, approachable sculpture. There’s no barriers to stop them touching it.

“I hope people enjoy it and welcome it into their lives for a little while.

“When you look down on it from the upper levels of the Piece Hall, it becomes really thread-like again.

“On the ground it’s different. But that’s the beauty of sculpture - you move around it and engage with it.

“It’s a really great setting for a piece of work because it changes from every angle. You’ve got 360 degrees on three levels, it’s a real gem of a place for an artist to show work. A real pleasure.”

Some of David’s other work is also available to view in an exhibition on the upper level of the Piece Hall.

Damon Waldock, deputy curator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, said: “It’s been a pleasure to be able to bring David’s work to Halifax.

“Some of the works in the exhibition are brand new, and it works so well with what is in the courtyard.

“I think it’s important that once people have seen the sculpture, they come to the exhibition to get a better understanding about David’s practice.

“The Piece Hall is an absolutely wonderful venue. The history is so fascinating as a centre for a hustle-and-bustle cloth market.

“To place a sculpture in the centre of something that has that history will create a little pausing space for visitors.

“Even if they don’t quite understand the sculpture straight away, to be able to stop in the middle of the courtyard, look at the work but also the surroundings is a great opportunity to think about the work, the history and hopefully want to find out more about the artist.”