Jon Hall Brunel’s Kingdom, 2019
Corten steel plate and dome head rivets, 5000 x 150 x 2850 mm approx.
‘Brunel’s Kingdom’ is a steel structure that draws together construction practices associated with the Industrial Revolution, and the natural features of Waiheke Island’s distinctive landscape.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a 19th-century English engineer, responsible for ground-breaking designs and mammoth feats of large scale construction. During his time, the art of blacksmithing contributed greatly to the development of new ideas and the Industrial Revolution. Our modern construction industry is held aloft by a steel skeleton born directly from the industrialised womb of the Old World. It enables us to span large distances, shelters us from the inconveniences of our planet, and provides us with a sense of security.
Today, the perils of industrialisation and its environmental impact are very apparent. And yet the question has to be asked: “Where would we be without it?” As Brunel’s inventions and the Industrial Revolution as a whole undoubtedly caused untold damage to the natural world, so did they inspire many following generations of engineers and contributed significantly to technological growth. By bringing the two elements together, natural form and industrial process, I hope to bring to the viewer a sense of understanding of the important symbiotic role they play in our existence on our planet.
Born Carterton. Lives and works in Auckland.
Jon Hall has been blacksmithing since he was 14 years old. After completing an apprenticeship with Chris Dalziel, a highly trained industrial smith based in Wellington, he embarked on a nine-year journeyman’s apprenticeship across Europe, working in some of the world’s most renowned artistic forges. In 2007 he returned home and opened his own forging studio and artist workshop in Auckland where he produces sculptural works for exhibitions and contemporary architectural ironwork manufactured using traditional techniques. Hall’s art practice comes from studying the tradition of blacksmithing and its relation to craft within the art world, and is informed by experiences in his early twenties when he found the waste material formed during smithing was more beautiful and replete with information than the ‘finished’ work.