Past Work

Plaque for St. Odulph's Church, Pillaton

This project, designing a plaque to go in the floor of St, Odulph's Church in Pillaton,  has gone to sleep at present - awaiting developments by others.

The church was struck by lightning on the night of 21st January 2013  and the resulting explosion shook the whole structure causing a lot of damage.  One of the pinnacles on the  tower disintegrated and a large part of it fell through the roof into the church, smashing pews and creating a couple of holes in the floor - one fairly sizable, about 570 x 280 mm, and the other fairly small.

In the summer/autumn of 2013,  the church's architect, Amanda Le Page, asked me to come up with a design for a plaque to mark the site of the larger hole.  This was on the strength of the work I did on the gates for the Devonport Column, another Le Page project.
 First draft of a design for a floor plaque for the church at Pillaton   

Originally, the brief was to produce a rectangular 650 x 420 mm plaque, which would have enabled some of the tiles around the big hole to be re-used to repair the small hole.  The plaque should "capture the drama" of the lightning strike, I was told.

I went back to Art Metal (now called Formlite) the company I worked with on the Devonport Column gates and we came up with the concept pictured left.  

The grey is stainless steel cut by water jet.  The black is stone, possibly granite or slate.

The thinking behind it is that it conveys the drama of the lightning strike and explosion as well as being a picture of lightning at night.   In addition, it reflects the broken state of the church following the storm.

The architect seemed to like it but the Parish Church Council unanimously rejected it - reasons not given to me at the time.

 Second draft of design for plaque for church at Pillaton  

I attended the next PCC meeting to get input on what they wanted and the concept behind the design on the left emerged.

The idea is to use similar granite to the material in the pinnacle and cut it to the shape of the existing hole.  The lightning bolt will be made from stainless steel and will be integrated into the granite using water jet cutting.

Only the date will be put on the floor plaque.  The story of the lightning strike will be told on a separate wall plaque.

I developed this, which was very much liked by Tony Rowe, in charge of the church fabric, who proposed it in the first place.  

I talked to Art Metal about the practicalities of making it, and it's more complicated (read expensive) than might be thought. 

The architect doesn't like this design and neither do I, really. I don't think filling the existing hole works.  

 Octagon shaped plaque for St Odulph's church in Pillaton
It turned out that the architect had deeper reservations.  She thought the plaque looked too "urban" - it needed to be "softer", more in keeping with its surroundings, a venerable old church (more than 750-years-old) in the heart of the Cornish countryside. 

She suggested using an octagon to echo the cross-section of the pinnacle, with the date embossed on a stainless steel circle in the middle.  She also wanted to go back to telling the story of the lightning strike around the edge of the plaque but have it engraved in the granite rather than cut into stainless steel (something the PCC wasn't keen on in Version 1).

Anyhow, I made a full size template of this design, along with previous designs, using hardboard and granite-patterned Fablon.  We've laid them in place to see what they look like.   Conclusion - go ahead with this design.

Octagon plaque with lettering in a circle for St Odulph's Church, Pillaton  The octagon design has been approved by the Parish Church Council so the next step is to show it to the Arch Deacon.

The PCC made some suggestions about the wording - trying to reduce the length so the font could be larger. 

In trying to accommodate this I ended up concluding that putting the wording in a ring would side-step a lot of issues - and that the wording needed to be inside borders to look right.

We will show both designs to the Arch Deacon.

Awaiting developments!

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