It might have seen better days, and quite frankly, it’s at the arse-end of The Moor. But how many people even notice the monument outside the Moorfoot building?
It is called the Crucible (or Crucible Fountain) and was commissioned by the Property Services Agency, Department of the Environment, to stand in front of the former Manpower Services Commission building. It was installed in 1979, the work of sculptor Judith Bluck, and cost £30,000.
Unsurprisingly, the sculptor chose something that was “rooted in Sheffield,” and based the design on a crucible used in the steel industry, along with the shape of a bird with spread-out wings.
After being conceived as a paper and wire-scale model on a turntable, the sculpture was created in Accrington, using a building with lifting gear, to lift a rolled steel joist armature, covered in chicken wire, and then sprayed with Glass Reinforced Polyester Resin.
The surface was created with a coating of “techfil,” made up of recycled fuel ash and crushed coal mixed with resin and applied by trowel. This was then sanded down and stippled with centrifugally atomised bronze.
Brought to Sheffield, the 30ft monument was mounted on two reinforced concrete pads.
Originally, the sculpture included water, supplied by three separate jets, positioned so that water falling off the structure didn’t blow in the wind and soak passers-by.
The surface texture was created to enhance the sound of water and provide a sparkling effect. By night, the monument was illuminated to augment the overall appearance.
A lot has happened to it since then.
The water was switched off in the distant past and the floodlights removed. The raised garden in which it stands was planted with shrubbery that eventually consumed much of the lower part of the monument.
I kid you not when I say that the sculpture provided the perfect safe place for the homeless, hidden from view, in which to sleep overnight.
Most of the overgrowth was removed in early 2016 when this part of The Moor was used in the filming of Brief Encounters, an ITV comedy-drama, detailing the beginning of the Ann Summers company, through four women who sought happiness and fulfilment by selling lingerie and sex toys.
Now in need of much care and attention, this cries out for restoration.
Note: Look out for Bluck’s wall frieze outside the disused toilet block nearby, covered in a separate post.