The developers of Freemans Reach have commissioned a unique public artwork, which celebrates the history of water power in Durham City.
Representing an investment of £100,000 by the development consortium of Carillion, Arlington Real Estate and Richardson Capital LLP, the glass sculpture entitled Confluence will use local imagery to chart Durham’s history and the use of water power on the riverside from the 11th century up to the present day and the Archimedean screw at Freemans Reach.
The screw drives a turbine which generates electricity fed into the National Grid that is the equivalent of 75 percent of the power requirements of Freemans Reach. It makes Freemans Reach the only UK city centre development to feature a hydro–turbine.
Designed and created by American artist Jeffrey Sarmiento, who is Reader in Glass at the University of Sunderland, supported by local resident and history enthusiast Rosemary Zakrewski, the public artwork will include two installations.
Confluence, which is being produced at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, consists of two features mounted to the south and east facades of the Freemans Reach kiosk. Four long glass panels display Jeffrey’s ‘Durham Mill Encyclopaedia’ of landmark moments in the site’s history. On the other site a lenticular agamograph made of glass prisms reveals an image of the Archimedean screw when viewed from one angle and an image of Archimedes and Durham Bishop Hugh De Puiset when viewed the other.
The public art will be installed on the walls of Freeman’s Reach new kiosk café and forms part of the high quality public realm area at the development, which includes a new Riverside Walk.
Freemans Reach is a significant regeneration project at the heart of Durham, which has helped retain valuable jobs in the city centre by providing high quality, sustainable offices for National Savings and Investments (NS&I) and Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO).
It is also the catalyst for a major programme of renewal on the riverside by the development consortium. As a result of NS&I and HMPO moving from Milburngate House to Freemans Reach, the next stage will be the transformation of the Milburngate site into a premium development featuringhomes, offices, restaurants and a boutique cinema.
Neil McMillan, Development Director at Carillion, said: “We want to mark the significance of water power to Durham City and the Riverside, which dates back centuries. The Public Art Installation will allow future generations to enjoy this important part of Durham’s history, which continues in the form of our Archimedean screw, which has become an attraction in its own right.”
Allan Cook, Managing Director of Arlington Real Estate, said: “Freemans Reach is synonymous with hydro-power and this art installation is a perfect way to help share this part of Durham’s past, present and future with local people and the thousands of visitors who come to the city every year. I am looking forward to seeing the concept brought to life when it’s unveiled in the summer.”
Jeffrey Sarmiento said: “I was very proud to be asked to be part of this unique art project. Durham City’s long history, together with the new Archimedean screw, at Freemans Reach has provided plenty of inspiration for me. I am looking forward to working on the art at National Glass Centre where I’ll be supported by a group of University students who will be part of a legacy project for Durham City.”