Cavatina

Cavatina is the first sculpture created by Anthony Bennett and Brian Alcock (Sheffield’s last jobbing grinder) for the Swarfhorse exposition. It is a torso, cast in concrete and covered in swarf, the ultrafine grindings produced by the friction of steel on stone. The challenge - and inspiration - was to see if a sculptor could create an experimental artwork that would celebrate the grinding industry in Sheffield – and mark its current plight.

It is composed of swarf deposited on a concrete cast of a torso. Anthony began by modelling a torso in clay, taking a plaster mould from the clay and then a concrete cast from the mould. This was positioned in front of the grindstone and, as Brian worked, the swarf built up on the surface of the torso. After about four weeks, the distinctive texture of the swarf deposit made it look like some ancient relic, something seen in the British Museum.

Brian thought of calling it Tina, after the cleaner who looked after his workshop. The name Cavatina came into Anthony’s head. It was perhaps inspired by the theme tune from the film The Deer Hunter but when he researched it he found that a Cavatina was originally ‘a short simple song, without a second strain or repetition of the air.’ Cavatina is simple, strong, unrepeatable. Where might she lead?

Displaying Cavatina at Globe Works was significant because it was there that Brian learned his industry, as a boy, working for George Barnsley’s. The driveway at Globe Works is made from used grindstones. Further evidence of grinding can be seen along the back lane on the outer (NW) side of the site, about 12ft up, on a now derelict building about two thirds of the way down the lane on the right. Here you can see the ‘swarf oyl’ – a hole in the wall through which the swarf was shovelled, to be taken away to be recycled.

Cavatina