Brick Manufacturer: HG Matthews
Architect: SCABAL Studio Cullinan And Buck Architects Ltd with artist Sarah Staton
Brickwork Contractor: Sutton Construction
About the project
Alphonso is a new public sculpture built with brick and tile, designed by the artist Sarah Staton and commissioned by Milton Keynes Council. The artist worked closely with SCABAL Architects on the detailed design. The structure has been set out brick-by-brick: a careful curation the Flemish-bond brickwork together with the tiling, drawing and commissioning of 350 bespoke bricks in 18 types required to achieve the complex geometry. The bricks themselves were produced in Chesham by traditional brickmakers H G Matthews: made from clay – dug, shaped and fired by wood on their historic family site. Darwen Terracotta welcomed the artist to their works in Blackburn where the tiles were hand painted and fired.
Located overlooking Willow Lake at Newton Leys, Buckinghamshire, Alphonso incorporates inspiration from multiple strands of local heritage. The site, rich in Oxford Clay was formerly occupied by Newton Longville Brickworks, and included the Jubilee Works, named in honour of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. The local context and brick making history has informed all aspects of the sculpture’s design.
Triangular in plan Alphonso’s form is guided by its site-in-space, and by the way in which its temporary inhabitants or passers-by discover it, occupy or play around it. Set on the rise of a spoil mound adjacent to Willow Lake, which now fills the pit created by former clay extraction, the sculpture is approached by a path that circles the mound, giving an everchanging view point on to the structure.