Primary Sections

1999
Corten, Stainless steel
Edition of 1

I-beams, Z-purlins, T-sections and C-sections are some of the basic forms of steel bar used in industrial construction work. Whether hidden from view by the cladding of a skyscraper or left as part of the aesthetic of engineered structures these forms are integral to most of our built environment.

The principles of engineering, the history of physics and a passion for metals lie at the heart of Mark Firth's practice, and in Primary Sections he brings together these concerns with his skill in manipulating form within tight parameters, in this case the cube. Firth is very much a physical sculptor, and spends much time at his lathe, cutting and rotating metal into forms which retain their original, usually geometric reference. He responds to the cut and twist intuitively, and in this way he discovered his subject-matter for Primary Sections. Scale is important in this sculpture as Firth required that a tall person should be able to see over the top, but also that it should be large enough to make you feel that the C-section might envelop you, therefore giving an architectural quality to the work. The corten steel has been left to weather naturally so that the immaculate welding in itself defines the form.

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About The Artist

After university Firth won a travel scholarship to Japan where he spent a year absorbing Japanese culture and visiting factories where work was done by robots. He became fascinated with engineering, the sciences, physics and the history of scientific phenomena, which still remains a major concern in Firth's work. Working in a variety of media including aluminium and steel, as well as lasers and holograms Firth draws on physics and the history of science. The formal compositions of his work have become progressively simpler and has recently involved the manufacturing of basic cuboids, combined in ways that involve both reduction and magnification. Familiar forms in Firths work represent fundamental elements of construction in our modern built environment. These forms represent the most efficient man made combinations of positive and negative space that are used all over the world in the girders that structure so much of our surrounding infrastructure. To Firth these elements are synonymous with modernity, but by removing their function Firth dislocates them from their industrial intention and draws attention to their design and sculptural quality. In his work Firth exposes that which is usually concealed and appropriates architectural invention for contemplation and art.

Mark Firth

Born: 1952