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Weaver Bird

Project Year

2019

Client

Darwen Council

A truly unique work of public art, the Weaver Bird sculpture stands majestically in Darwen, Lancashire’s recently revitalized market square.

This sculpture graces the epicenter of an outdoor space that plays host to grand-scale events. The area is further enhanced by its landscaped surroundings, inviting seating arrangements, and poignant artworks dedicated to the brave Darwenian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War I.

Designed and crafted with great care by Liam Hopkins, the visionary head of Lazerian, the Weaver Bird sculpture pays homage to Darwen’s rich culture and history, embodying the essence of the town in every intricate detail.

Close up of the weaver bird public art sculpture showing details of its face including beak and eyes. in the distance you can see one of its wings. Background is a blue sky scattered with clouds

Collaborating closely with the residents of Darwen remained a central focus throughout this project, as their narratives and heritage provided profound inspiration for the creation of the Weaver Bird sculpture. Through extensive dialogues and thorough exploration of the area, it became evident how deeply Darwen’s history was held in reverence. This recognition gave rise to a natural connection.

Numerous accounts recounted the iconic India Mill chimney, a towering structure that graces Darwen’s skyline and was architecturally designed to emulate an Italian bell tower. Simultaneously, the surrounding moors of Darwen played a significant role in shaping the town’s identity. These elements converged, giving life to the idea of crafting the Weaver Bird.

Within the chimney of India Mill, a bird of prey, the Peregrine Falcon, had found its abode. It was this majestic bird that served as the primary inspiration for the copper sculpture, paying homage to the avian inhabitants that had chosen Darwen as their home.

The intentional absence of feathers in the bird sculpture symbolizes the evolution of Darwen and its textile industry. Stripped down to its essence, mirroring both the town’s industry and the sculpture itself, it serves as a representation of the reduced production that characterizes the present-day town.

 

Another iconic piece of architecture in Darwen was inspirational in the positioning of the public art sculpture. High on a hill in the distant skyline is the Jubilee Tower, which was built to partly commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee and also partly to celebrate the success of a campaign to open the moors to the public. The arrangement of the copper statement piece is connected to India Mill as several Peregrine falcon nest in the mill
Close up of a public art sculpture of a falcon weaver bird made from copper stood in the market square of Darwen. The weaver bird public art sculpture is facing the iconic Jubilee tower in Darwen

Another Darwen architectural gem that played a pivotal role in guiding the placement of the public art sculpture is the iconic Jubilee Tower. Perched high atop a distant hill on the skyline, this tower was erected both to honor Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee and to celebrate the triumphant campaign to open the moors to the public. Deliberately, the copper statement piece is positioned with its head oriented toward this historical landmark.

The deliberate connection between the contemporary sculpture and Darwen’s rich architectural history underscores the thoughtful intent behind its placement. It was paramount to provide the people of Darwen with a lasting treasure, one that would be cherished and admired in the years to come, much like the revered and preserved structures that grace the surrounding landscape.

Heritage Inspired Creation

Side view of a piece of public art in Darwen. A large falcon bird made using weathered copper and using a new weaved technique.
The Peregrine Falcon represents the people of Darwen, the bird is strong and resilient as are the many members of the town.

The Peregrine Falcon serves as a symbol of the people of Darwen, embodying their strength and resilience, much like the town’s residents. Many of them may journey far and wide, even migrating, but they always return to the place they proudly call home, mirroring the bird’s own nature and lifestyle.

For the council, the commissioning of a public art piece was not solely about attracting visitors to the area or boosting local businesses. It was equally crucial to place the voices and sentiments of Darwen’s residents at the core of the project. In line with the principles of many community-led public art initiatives, several art and design engagement opportunities were initiated. One particularly unique and memorable approach was the inclusion of Lazerian’s “On the Road” concept. In this innovative endeavor, a 1950s Citroen HY Van was stationed in the market square, where it facilitated the creation of personalized art-styled portraits. This blend of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary technology not only resulted in captivating artwork but also provided a platform for individuals to share their stories while being photographed. It became the perfect synthesis of these elements, presented in an engaging and modern manner.

The feet of a peregrine falcon as part of a public art sculpture. Made using weaved copper metal.
Side view of a piece of public art in Darwen. A large falcon bird made using weathered copper and using a new weaved technique. Looking at its head and neck area
A huge 3D sculpture art piece which is on display at Darwen market square of a copper bird with its wings spread. Created by Manchester artist and Manchester maker Liam Hopkins
Darwen Art Project: Connecting People with Their Hometown. 2 children getting up close to the public art sculpture by Lazerian in Darwen Town Square
Darwen Art Project: Connecting People with Their Hometown. A local child getting up close to the public art sculpture by Lazerian in Darwen Town Square
Darwen Art Project: Connecting People with Their Hometown. Several local children getting up close to the public art sculpture by Lazerian in Darwen Town Square
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