Heavy Rock

A commission by Keith Harrison for New Expressions 3

Plymouth and the Breakwater, Summer 2015

Photo: Keith HarrisonNew Expressions 3 (NE3) is a national pathfinder programme, funded by Arts Council England, which enables contemporary artists and museums to work together in new and exciting ways.

It involves nine major artist-museum collaborations, as well as six smaller experimental projects across the South West, Midlands and North of England.

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery has been involved in New Expressions since it began in 2006 and as the lead partner for NE3, we are working on a high profile public art project with British artist, Keith Harrison.

Keith was inspired by the historic painting in our ‘Plymouth: Port and Place’ gallery, entitled ‘Laying the Foundation Stone of Plymouth Breakwater’ by George Barrett Jr.

Keith has intervened in the casting process of one of the giant concrete 100 tonne ‘wave breakers’ that are placed out on the breakwater each year. The blocks play a key role in the ongoing defence of the breakwater, Plymouth Sound and the city itself. Keith’s intervention celebrates the breakwater and makes this hidden process more public.

The wave breaker was dropped into position on the breakwater in August 2015. A related exhibition featuring a wooden replica of the mould that was used to cast the wave breaker and Keith’s developmental drawings was displayed at KARST. A special celebration event was also held during which three brand new musical scores inspired by the breakwater were performed by 24 members of HM Royal Marine Band, Plymouth. The scores were written by Will Gregory from Goldfrapp and orchestrated by Ian Gardiner.

About the artist

Born in West Bromwich, raised from the age of 8 in Birmingham, and now based in Plymouth, Keith Harrison challenges preconceptions about the use and practice of ceramics.

Since 2002, he has been involved in a series of process-based live public experiments that investigate the direct physical transformation of clay.

Harrison was Ceramics Resident at the V&A, London from October 2012 to March 2013. He has also realised large-scale works for a range of public galleries and museums.

Find out more about his current work on the Keith Harrison. Find out more about his time at the V&A on the V&A website.