Iron Aaron continues with the task of smelting down a 2kg lump of meteorite into a bowl / 19 March 2010
Last week I was back in London on the Monday when I received a series of dramatic texts from Spike Island’s Marie-Anne McQuay and David Martin. Mike at the Foundry had called to say that the porringer would have to be cast as soon as possible since he expected that the incredible amount of heat required to smelt the very dense iron (denser and heavier than any earth metal) would be ready in the crucible in an hour’s time but probably not again.
And so the erstwhile Spike Island curatorial team grabbed the meteorite - and with Isabel from the office at the wheel - they shot over to the foundry to step around all the puddles to avoid indelibly blacking non-ironworking clothing and to literally fling the meteor into the crucible. A very dramatic series of photos were then taken and an hour later the porringer was cooled enough for it to be returned to my studio.
When I got there the next day, to be honest my first feeling was underwhelming. I’d expected the porringer to have the same outer-space sheen that the meteorite had had. But instead it looked dull with a blue-grey craftshop-kitsch finish to it. Until it was pointed out that the object needed polishing and so various types of methods and materials were used until this much-travelled lump of metal once again gleamed as an alien intruder to our planet.
Most meteorites break up when attempting to smash through our atmosphere but this little critter held it together to land in 1576 and then become the Porringer 534 years later.
As a performance artist I’m always troubled by the way that all manner of animation is ascribed to inert sculptures so it was pleasing to know that this object has been shape-shifted around the universe a bit before reaching its current form.
One of the downsides of polishing meteorite iron for two days is that, as it slowly erodes, the stuff seems to seep into your soul and continues to emerge out through your hands and fingernails even after you’ve scrubbed them to a bright pink colour.
It’s like a kind of photosynthesis and over the last week I have had to resign myself to having meteorite particles leaking blackly through my fingernails and skin cells in all kinds of unusual, even demure situations (cocktails in a tapas bar for eg). However, I hope to have clean hands again soon as my days as Iron Aaron are now past.