A complex abstract piece consisting of four elements consisting of large curves, blocks and smaller hemispheres. All the major structures are hollow, with solid forms attached. Surfaces range from smooth curves to roughly worked planes, and some seem to have been originally coated in gold paint, which has now mostly worn off. Much of the black bronze has weathered to a green colour. The sculpture is situated in an oblong pool which no longer contains any water.
A bronze statuette of Sir Joseph Swan was originally attached to the wall opposite along with a replica of his filament light bulb. These are no longer in place.
Commissioned by Newcastle City Council as a memorial to Sir Joseph Swan, this sculpture is appropriately sited near the entrance to an office block also named after him. A memorial to Sir Joseph Swan was suggested by the Leader of Newcastle City Council T.Dan Smith, sponsored by Mayor Henry Simm and funded through a memorial committee.
The illuminated fountain was designed by Kenneth Graham, with Arnatt responsible for the sculpture, statuette and plaque. The unveiling ceremony was performed by Sir Joseph's son, Sir Kenneth Swan, on 16th September 1969.(2)
Swan House was originally occupied by the Post Office, then British Telecom. The roundabout and buildings are due for redevelopment in 2000 and the fate of this sculpture within that scheme is uncertain.
The sculpture is a 'visual analogy of Sir Joseph's invention, the electric filament light'.(1) This was first demonstrated at the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society on 3rd February 1879 and its success soon led to mass manufacture (see TWNE32 for a biography of Joseph Swan).
Inscribed on plaque attached to pool: Memorial to / Sir Joseph Wilson Swan / "Articulated Opposites" / by / Raymond Arnatt / Bronze 1969
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