AS_BLP Drawings Series (oil on paper, A3 & A2), 2020
Location of a few Pulham sites in North West England
Title of the document
Pulham sites in Lancashire:
Rivington Terraced Gardens, Bolton
Pulham sites in Lancashire: public parks in Preston
Avenham & Miller Park, Preston
Haslam Park, Preston
Moor Park, Preston
Pulham sites in the North West of England
This month I started to develop a project supported by the Arts Council England, taking place in Abingdon Studios, Blackpool. At the moment I am researching about the Pulham Legacy and visiting Pulham sites in the North West of England. In this post I would like to tell you how I got to know Pulham & Son's remarkable design and architectural work and to share some images and footage from the Coastal Cliff Park, along the North Shore of Blackpool.
It was the end of summer and I was cycling along the promenade and passed through this area known as ‘the cliffs’ in the North Shore of Blackpool, and I was amazed with this monumental mass of artificial rock dominating the view. I immediately thought about Phillyda Barlow's artwork, especially a sculpture I had seen a few years ago at Jupiter Artland in Scotland (click here). She created a kind of monolith using industrial materials, copying the shape of blocks of slate - an ambiguous sculpture that plays with our notions about natural and artificial landscape. What amuses me about the cliffs is that it’s a manmade object, a product of labor and skilled craftsmanship that resembles nature in a very particular way, installed permanently in public space to become part of the landscape. I noticed because of the wear and tear and lack of maintenance, cracks, scraps and other layers of material are visible underneath the surface; and some edges that collapsed were repaired with a different material, changing its original qualities. Also a few pathways throughout the cliffs that linked the lower part of the promenade to the top bit were closed, presumably for health and safety reasons and are now dead end zones.
Upon further research I discovered that the artificial rocks were made with a mixture of materials called pulhamite, created by the firm Pulham & Son and subsequently used to rockify the North Cliffs in 1922-23. I also discovered that during the Victorian and Edwardian era, the company was commissioned to develop around 170 projects in the United Kingdom, including rock gardens, grottos, waterfalls, statues, other architectural ornaments and landscapes spread all around the country.
Recently I visited other Pulham sites in the North West. In the next post I will be sharing my impressions about what I found in those places. More information about Pulham Legancy can be found in the website: https://pulham.org.uk/.