The Braid Sculpture was a joint Artist-Simon Watkinson project on behalf of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, artist Simon Watkinson, Capita Symonds, Stage Electrics and m-tec which were responsible for the fabrication and attachment of specialist lighting to the Braid Sculpture. The metal section was fully fabricated and bead-blasted at the m-tec headquarters. m-tec were also responsible for the delivery and installation of the Braid Sculpture to the Blackburn town centre location.
In simple terms the Braid draws on the notion of a multi-stranded element creating strength and dynamism. Within Blackburn it obviously draws upon the textile history of the area, along with an implied reference to diverse elements binding together. Visually the sculptor wanted to make something that appeared to emanate from the floorscape without the need for a mediating plinth. The LED lights in the granite suggest further strands that have been cut, as if the whole structure is in fact a fat fibre-optic cable harness emerging from the hard landscaping. The top plates are like the cards used in Jacquard looms for ‘programming’ the design.
With regard to the lighting, the use of light pipes allows the creation of large-scale elements of light. The colour changing LED fittings create a vivid rotational movement through the top section, enhancing the sense of turning that the stainless steel pipes establish. An important aspect is the drama of the structure, the accumulation of rods supporting the more robust top section, set against the various city backdrops and sky. It is obviously a contemporary piece but refers back to an old Victorian lantern that used to occupy the site. As part of the newly landscaped site I think the two marry very well.