Let Sleeping Giants Lie
Surreal scenes from inside a former cutlery factory in the once beating industrial heartlands of Sheffield, South Yorkshire — these monochrome colossi form part of an art installation titled ‘Mausoleum of the Giants’ by the local illustrator and muralist Phlegm, and are so alien to the space, as to look almost like CG images composited onto the real world. The actuality is decidedly low-tech: Papier-mâché, paint, and presumably wood for the underlying superstructure; but take it from me the effect is suitably awe-inspiring in person, particularly with the light of the afternoon sun cascading onto their sleeping forms through the factory’s immense skylights.
Despite how out-of-place they seem at first, once I’d walked around and got a good look at them, it also seems totally right for them to be here — everything just fits and they all sit wholly naturally within the interior architecture, making artistic use of existing alcoves and fixtures, limbs twisting around the room’s interior geography — almost as if they’ve come in of their own accord and settled in the most appropriate spots. In a way they have, the creatures were all purpose-built specifically for the space with the larger ones being constructed completely on-site over the course of around 3 months.
I’ve haven’t really encountered much of Phlegm’s work before, but apparently the beasts depicted are part of a large cast of characters that inhabit his varied pieces; much of them adorned in feathers and seemingly avian-inspired, often inhabiting whimsical steampunk-esque industrial landscapes that put me in mind of Shaun Tan’s work and that of the Amanita Design game studio.
Once the exhibition has run its course, a few of the sculptures (almost certainly of the smaller varieties) have apparently been snagged by various local art galleries, but the giants themselves will be systematically dismantled and discarded to make way for the apartments that their resting place will become.