Murmuration by Christopher Tipping MA RCA

Murmuration – a collective noun for Starlings

The inspiration for this project was the ‘Starling Spectacular’ seen over the Somerset Levels at the RSPB Reserves at Ham Wall & Shapwick Heath.  What is mesmerising and memorable is that particular flocking movement, which results in the creation of brilliant, original and fluid abstract forms.  This project evolved as an interpretation, rather than an illustration, of such an event.

The concept therefore explores the shadow cast by a flocking Murmuration of starlings as it races around the new building – casting abstracted forms across the zinc-clad rain-screens on the most prominent corners.  It is intended that the work can be seen from afar and from varying aspects as one approaches the Hospital and the Jubilee Building both on foot and by car or public transport.

The artist felt that the image was an especially evocative one to conjure with when describing a dynamic Hospital environment such as Musgrove Park, itself a large social grouping working in unison.  The Murmuration captures a single moment when everyone is working in unison.  It is an implicit thing performed unconsciously.

The artwork comprises repeating modular motifs; in this case an ellipse and a circle to create a sense of multiple flocks coming together to create one unified form.  The individual bird profiles are all interconnected and therefore able to be cut from panels of sheet stainless steel metal, whilst still maintaining strength and unity.  The overall design was broken up into manageable sections, which could then be re-assembled into its flocking formations. The panels are a mix of bright mirror & satin finishes, to vary the reflective impact of the work.  To create a sense of depth, the panels are held off the zinc cladding by two depths of fixing spacer bracket. The variations in height and surface finishes of the panels further enhance the sculptural qualities of the work and the effects and consequences of natural light and the Somerset weather upon it.

The Murmuration project, was manufactured and installed by Taunton Fabrications, a locally based company who are leading manufacturers of architectural metalwork in the south of England.

Christopher Tipping is a nationally renowned artist who has been delivering artwork for healthcare settings for 25 years. Christopher was commissioned in October 2009 to work with the Trust’s Design Team to develop this and other artworks integrated into the design and build of the Jubilee Building. Other works by Christopher Tipping are the Central Concourse Screen and the three Tree Panels sited within the Jubilee ward reception areas.

Photograph by Corbin O’Grady Studio