THIS massive phoenix sculpture is rising from the ashes – of a former pit site.
The half-tonne bird is the creation of Huddersfield artist and blacksmith Julian Wadsworth.
And it has been unveiled for the first time after flying its Milnsbridge nest for the former site of Peckfield Colliery in Micklefield, Leeds.
Finished in shining nickle plate, the six foot tall sculpture took three months to construct.
Made of sections of forged steel welded together, the mythical bird was created by Julian in his Holme Mills workshop.
The sculpture is the 45-year-old’s largest creation yet and provided new challenges for him.
To give his phoenix the feel of a real creature he explored the physical form of the birds around him.
He also researched the history of the fabled creature and its meanings in mythology and religion.
Julian, of Marsden, said: “With all this history, I had to give it some honour in terms of the level of craft and detailing – creating something that had a persona and presence and a bit of grace to it.
“It was challenging getting the body shape and the overall feeling of it just right.
“When it came to the physical structure I had to get hold of a chicken before cooking it and get a feel for just how the bones came together.
“I had to get really hands on to see how a wing fitted in. I looked at many anatomical drawings and images of birds as well as studying those around me.
“I particularly looked at herons to get a feel for the make up of a bird like that.”
Perched on a stone column the bird stands in a cinnamon stick fire, to symbolise the way mythology says it rises from the ashes.
Julian’s latest work of art is now gracing the entrance of Peckfield Business Park, after a journey by a pick-up truck before being hoisted onto its mount.
Commissioned by Leeds City Council, the sculpture is a nod to the fact that a colliery once stood there and that the re-invigoration of the site – on Phoenix Avenue– was like rising from the ashes.
The sculpture even hints at the past of the site with a carefully-crafted skull in the form of a pick axe head.
Julian added: “The bird’s head and bill are a tool for how it survives and that’s partly what inspired this idea.
“It makes me think of the men over the centuries using the same tool for survival, hacking away at the coal face.
“I had to punch the eye out and it took a bit of doing. It was a heavy lump to work with.
“In the legs and wings there was a lot of forging to give it strength and visual impact.”
A blacksmith for 26 years, Julian moved into more artistic work after gaining a degree in art and design. His work can now be seen across Yorkshire.
“This is the biggest sculptural piece I have done so far and the most detailed, he added.
“It involved lots of techniques and I have really enjoyed the challenge.”