The project was procured via a design competition in 2013 at Inverclyde Council. The aim was to produce a work of public art that would pay tribute to the strong shipbuilding heritage in Port Glasgow and the workers who contributed to it, while also serving as a modern-day tourist attraction bringing people to Port Glasgow and Inverclyde. The completed sculpture is located in Coronation Park, Port Glasgow.
The winning design by sculptor John McKenna was selected through a public vote and comprises a pair of 10m high stainless-steel men in active positions about to strike downwards with their hammers, with ship hull segments around them. The sculpture has a steel tonnage of approximately 14 tonnes.
Narro were responsible for the full design of both the steel superstructure and piled substructure. The entire superstructure is made of stainless steel, partly chosen due to the 120-year design life. Grade 316 is used for the faceted outer surface of the figures, whereas grade 304 is used for the supporting structure beneath.
The structural form of the large figures echoes the technique of building ships, with the surface skin being steel plates that are welded to a steel subframe and associated ribs, thus maximising the apparent mass of the structure whilst minimising the tonnage of steel required to create it.
John McKenna initially made a scaled down version of the proposed sculptures in clay, which was 3D scanned and transferred into to CAD software. Narro then used this to establish a best fit ‘stick form’ primary skeleton for one of the figures. We liaised with John to ensure that the skeleton could be split up into a series of segments that could be fabricated in his yard in Ayrshire, transported up to Port Glasgow on lorries and then bolted together on site.
The completed sculptures are a spectacular addition to Port Glasgow and a wonderful tribute to the shipbuilding industry. It has also been a unique project to help design and certainly one to be proud of.