When the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust wanted to commemorate the Slimbridge 75 Project, they turned to Ian Gill – award-winning contemporary metal artist, and blacksmith – to create a sculpture. ‘Nest’ was built and installed on the A38 Slimbridge roundabout in October 2021. Because it was a long project due to planning and the pandemic, Ian needed to ensure the final stage – hot dip galvanizing – was in safe hands. He chose Premier Galvanizing – part of the Joseph Ash Group.
The Wildfowl and Wetland’s Trust (WWT) was created by Sir Peter Scott in 1946, as a place of conservation, and science. The Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire was the first of nine sites for the WWT, and 75 years on, the attraction receives over 250,000 visitors a year and helps protect birds, and their wetland habitats.
To commemorate the 75th birthday of the first site, the WWT wanted a sculpture on the A38 Slimbridge roundabout, that people would see as they enter the wetlands.
With funding from Moto in the Community and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the WWT set a competition for school pupils from Slimbridge Primary School to design a sculpture that symbolised what the Wetlands Centre meant to them. The winning design, submitted by an 11-year old pupil, incorporated a blend of natural wetland habitats, insects and bird species spotted at Slimbridge.
Award-winning sculptor, Ian Gill, was tasked with bringing the sculpture to life in his studio in Lincolnshire.
With its intricate design of reeds, wildlife and Lilly pads, plus over 3500kg of steel, it took Ian 14 months to forge the steel.
When steel is used in outdoor art or construction, it needs to be protected from the environment, to ensure longevity. A hot dip galvanized coating is the perfect finish, as it provides a beautiful silver shine and protects the steel from rust.
When working on ‘Nest’, Ian had only just moved from Essex to Lincolnshire and even though he had been pleased with his previous galvanizer, he wanted a company closer to his new location. So he met with Premier Galvanizing in early 2020 and learnt about our expertise in galvanizing steel for intricate works of art.
Entrusting work to a new galvanizer can be a daunting prospect. Especially when galvanization is the final stage of a project that has taken over a year to fabricate. In the hands of the wrong galvanizer, a project can be ruined in minutes. But Premier Galvanizing allayed Ian’s concerns. We invited him to watch how the steel was carefully loaded onto the trucks at his studio and welcomed him to the plant to see how the steel would be unloaded and dipped into the zinc bath for the galvanizing process.
Ian was impressed, stating that “The communication level and quality of work from Premier Galvanizing is second to none.”
Ian has since used Premier Galvanizing for several sculptures, including ‘The Singing Waterlilly’, a signature piece of art for Raymond Blanc’s pop-up restaurant in Chelsea in 2021.
The WWT grew in strength over the years, and now has nine sites across the UK, welcoming over a million visitors every year.
When ‘Nest’ was installed, Moto in the Community Chair Louise Hughes said: “We’re so excited [about] this beautiful sculpture… Everyone at Moto in the Community is so pleased that WWT will now have this local landmark to signpost Slimbridge as the home of conservation as we know it today.
Alongside the work and projects that Moto in the Community has supported at WWT Slimbridge itself, we’re delighted that this sculpture can help showcase WWT’s 75th anniversary celebrations to the local community and beyond.”
Ian said “With our biodiversity in decline, ‘Nest’ is a constant reminder that without nurture and change, this is what we could lose.
The sculpture depicts an infinity of lily pads, with a whole range of wildfowl and birds living amongst it, creating its sanctuary. Raising awareness and reminding us how beautiful nature is around us and why we need to protect it.”
Andrew Tweddle, Premier Galvanizing Hull said: “We’ve been proud to showcase to Ian the quality of work and customer service we provide when hot dip galvanizing steel and we look forward to working with him on many projects in the future.
It’s also been an honour to hot dip galvanize ‘Nest’ for the WWT and the visitors to Slimbridge. Here’s to the next 75 years for the WWT, and we hope the sculpture is enjoyed for many years to come.”
To read more about Ian Gill’s work, visit his website at www.iangillsculpture.com, or follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. (See links on his site.) You can see Ian’s work all over the UK. His work can also be seen in Palm Springs, Mumbai and the Czech Republic. He also exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show every year.
To read more about the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, visit their website at www.wwt.org.uk. You can also read about their founder – Sir Peter Scott, who, interestingly was the son of Antarctic explorer Captain Scott.Next page