Giant versions of two nineteenth-century surveyor's instruments in stainless steel, a theodolite (used for measuring horizontal angles) and a level (used for establishing the relationship between a surface to the horizontal). The base of the theodolite has been fitted with steel representations of severed limbs, a human hand, a horse's foot and the foot of a lizard-like creature. The level stands on a horse's foot, a lion's paw and the foot of a lizard-like creature. The two pieces are positioned slightly apart and stand on the site of the former Consett steelworks beside the Sustrans C2C cycle path.
Terris Novalis (literally 'in newly cultivated lands') is based on a gallery work of the same title of 1992, in which, to quote the words of one critic, 'animal and anthropomorphic magnetically enter into a dreamlike, ecstatic dialogue with the object'.(1) However, in its setting at Consett the work is more a comment on the character and history of a particular place, as the manager of Sustrans in the North East has remarked.(2) That is, it draws attention to the fact that Consett is at a point on the Coast to Coast route where one 'leaves the high hills and enters the North East's industrial area',(3) where a railway line once ran and extensive land reclamation has taken place following the closure of the once mighty Consett steelworks in 1979.(4) The level and the theodolite, it should noted, are similar to instruments used to survey the Paris to Brussels railway line in the last century.(5) Interestingly though, the artist himself does not seem to see the change of setting as especially important, saying that he does not think of his sculpture as either indoor or outdoor, anymore than he thinks of books as indoor or outdoor.
The sculpture was commissioned by Sustrans and paid for with money from the National Lottery, Northern Arts, Derwentside Council, the Henry Moore Foundation, Consett's Genesis Project and industrial sponsors. Component parts were cast in Shefield and Germany and kept in storage for a while at Beamish Museum before being transported to Consett by truck and assembled on site. The piece was eventually unveiled, after a gestation period of some four years, by the local M.P., Hilary Armstrong, on 22nd September 1997.
PMSA recording information