Defenders of the East Gate, Southampton
A new public artwork on the site of the former Nexus night club in central Southampton. The site was transformed into a new social housing development under the management of Orchard Homes, which provided the opportunity for a site-specific artwork that would reflect the areas rich and interesting past.
Following a competitive process, Southampton based artist Chris Cudlip’s proposal for a relief modelled in bricks was chosen. Chris is a freelance figurative sculptor and prop maker. Following working for clients such as English National Opera, Madame Tussauds and Pinewood Studios, he is now based in Southampton working on public and private commissions. His work is diverse in subject matter and uses a wide variety of materials with a figurative thread running throughout. It encompasses traditional sculpting methods, performance, experimental recycled work, youth and community projects, and recently an exploration into the world of sumo.
The commissioned artwork depicts two medieval blacksmiths, referring to the sites historical significance as the site of the old medieval wall and Eastern gateway to the town (1200-1765) which was defended by the town’s Craft Guild. Also, the artwork depicts various contemporary musical instruments representing the more recent cultural heritage of the site as the location of Nexus, a nightclub that for many years was a feature of the city’s cultural life, hosting countless gigs and events that informed its reputation as a leading venue on the UK tour circuit.