Jean-Bernard METAIS, Alliance, St David's 2 - The Hayes, Cardiff (Wales)

 Jean-Bernard METAIS, Alliance, St David's 2 - The Hayes, Cardiff (Wales)
A long time ago, 1000 or 2000 years back, the sea came up as far as The Hayes. Historically, this was where the city began. As the sea pulled back, it left behind an alluvial delta. A canal was then cut towards the Bay, which was to play a major role in the city's economic destiny. A bridge crossed the canal near The Hayes, and a little further Cardiff's first fortifications were built, lines of defence and protection against invasions. This history, linked to the presence of water which has today receded, is a fundamental part of the historic and magnetic quality of the St David's site. For us it constitutes an important reference.

The new city library, currently under construction and located at one end of The Hayes, functions as the sculpture's principal visual anchor as well as a thematic link. Surrounded by numerous shops, cafes and bars, this new public facility will give the site a cultural dimension, offsetting the prevailing consumer culture of contemporary urban society. At the same time, the presence of a work of art enables us to reinforce and widen the city's cultural appeal.

The sculpture is composed of two elements that seem to balance in the air: a circular form (hoop) of vast dimensions planted in the ground at a slight angle, and a spike, a monumental landmark like a huge "gnomon". The overall structure is deliberately lightweight, open and transparent, in order not to clutter an already dense urban area. Instead, it serves to unify and integrate the diverse architectural elements that surround it and the area's urban complexity.
A device within the circle envelops a visible liquid that moves continuously with the ebb and flow of the tide. This perpetual movement, a symbolic link, located as it is between the new city centre and the gateway leading to the city's economic past, acts here like an organic clock, creating a poetic connection with the rhythm of nature, cosmic time and the origins of the place.

The work integrates texts created by British poet and writer Peter Finch. They are carved or engraved into the floor slabs themselves. They work as topographical references, evoking the layers of Cardiff's urban history at this spot.

Stainless steel - Enamelled metal - Polycarbonate - Liquid fluids - Light.
Height 27m, Diameter 15m

Organisation : SAFLE
Client: St Davids Partnership and Capital shopping centres.

Photo: Jean-Bernard Métais' proposal (March 2008).
The work will be completed in September 2009.