£2,500 broom for sale created by sculptor tasked with Tinsley Towers replacement in Sheffield

Sculptor Alex Chinneck's replacement for the demolished Tinsley cooling towers will not be unveiled in Sheffield until next year - but in the meantime the artist has created a special piece for people to keep at home.

Monday, 14th May 2018, 5:28 pm
Updated Monday, 14th May 2018, 7:21 pm
The Blood, Sweat and Tears of Joy broom by Alex Chinneck. Picture: Liberty

Alex, who has been commissioned to create the city's biggest ever public art work - a trail of 100ft red-brick chimneys - is selling a wooden broom with a twisted handle through luxury London department store Liberty.

His broom - a piece of art called Blood, Sweat and Tears of Joy - was one of the winners in the shop's Open Call 2018 design contest and is on sale for £2,495.

Alex Chinneck's 'cracked' chimney will be built first, with the others to follow when funding is secured.

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Liberty says the 'remarkable collector's piece' combines 'elements of craft and sculpture with a healthy dose of surrealism, in order to elevate and examine the secret life of an ordinary household broom'. "The fluidly knotted structure of this typically inflexible domestic object appears almost like a trick of the eye, demanding closer inspection."

Each broom is just over four feet long and takes 10 days to carve by hand from ash. Only 25 will be sold. Alex has twisted an antique oak grandfather into a knot too - the timepiece, which still functions, is also on display and available at Liberty.

“I like to make everyday items appear extraordinary," explained Alex, whose studio is in Kent. "In my world, where the normal rules associated with materials no longer apply, wood bends, brick curls, stone hovers and brick melts.”

Last autumn the sculptor revealed his designs for Onwards & Upwards, a series of chimney stacks along the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, starting close to the M1 flyover near Meadowhall. The two landmark cooling towers, once part of Blackburn Meadows power station, came down in 2008.

He was commissioned in 2016 by Sheffield Council, which says the project has secured £1 million including £450,000 in sponsorship from Eon, the energy firm that owned the towers. But a bid for a share of the Government's £15m Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, that would have fast-tracked the sculptures' full arrival in 2019 coinciding with the canal's bicentenary, was rejected. Up to £4 million was potentially available; in Sheffield, the money would also have paid for additions such as a café and visitor centre.

It is understood Onwards & Upwards will now be delivered more slowly on a phased basis, with the first sculpture closest to the M1 bridge - an illuminated chimney with a 'cracked' appearance - built for 2019, and the other three artworks following in subsequent years, as and when more investment can be raised. The extra elements may be dropped.

The remaining sculptures comprise a 'hovering' chimney with an upper section that appears to float; two leaning chimneys standing 45 metres apart that bridge the canal; and a curving chimney tied into a knot.

See Alex's broom at Liberty here.