Turning Engineering into Art.

Project Description

A small Taranaki company has forged a link with a top contemporary artist, proving that skills honed in the region’s dairying and engineering industries are right up there alongside the world’s best.

Normanby company Global Stainless, which comprises just five staff, created the components of leading artist Anish Kapoor’s towering Tall tree and the eye, which has been exhibited at some of the top galleries internationally.

The sculpture was commissioned for a major exhibition of Kapoor’s work at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Arts, and has since been exhibited and acquired by the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain for an undisclosed sum believed to be in the millions of Euro.

The stunning sculpture is created with 76 polished stainless steel spheres, each a metre round, that have been likened to the rising bubbles in a glass of good Champagne, such is their perfection and impression of weightlessness.

But the real story is how a tiny Taranaki firm were able to realise the complicated vision of one of the world’s most innovative artists and in doing so create a sculpture that appears to defy gravity and numerous other laws of physics.

Global Stainless has developed its own world-beating intellectual property that has enabled it to manufacture seamless stainless steel curves to almost any dimension.

“Our process, which we have patented, forms the balls after welding, meaning there is none of the usual shrinkage associated with the process,” says Global Stainless Managing Director Lincoln Raikes.

“Polishing to a mirror finish, like that required in the Anish Kapoor sculpture, will highlight even tiny imperfections in the underlying metal. The process we have invented from scratch means that flaws are virtually eliminated.”

And the company’s products are not just finding homes in major contemporary artworks.

“We’ve created products for the oil and gas, pulp and paper and roading industries, and most of our work is for the Dairy sector,” Lincoln says.

Like its name would suggest, the company is no stranger to global contracts. In 2007 it was commissioned to create a perfect 2.1m stainless steel sphere for exhibition in Monte Carlo.

Achieving global success from South Taranaki hasn’t been a sudden change for the company. It has had an active website for more than 12 years, and credits this with raising its international profile and getting it in front of the likes of Kapoor.

“We set up a website before the Internet really took off, and this is how Kapoor first found out about what we do.”

The company has also worked with Venture Taranaki to access Enterprise Training and other growth assistance programmes, over the years taking part in the Getting Started on the Internet, Getting Ahead: Marketing and High Impact Lean Manufacturing programmes – the latter attracting a number of Global’s staff.

But the trouble with Venture Taranaki’s training programmes, says Raikes, is finding the time to put all of the ideas you walk out with into practice. And with a foot in the door at the very top of the frenetic international art world, Raikes’ time is likely to get even tighter.

Project Details

  • Client Global Stainless
  • Date 12/06/2012
  • Tags Stainless Steel
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