Capturing the passage of time at Ironworks, Cambridge

25 March 2022


As part of the redevelopment of the Mill Road depot in Cambridge, we have commissioned several pieces of public art that will enrich the new location and create exciting public open spaces within the new development.

One of the artists is Jo Chapman, who through her seven-metre cast bronze sculpture, Timekeeper, is celebrating and acknowledging the former Headly's Eagle Foundry, which was once located on the site.

I wanted to create a sculpture that would embody aspects of the history of the site, interpreting time as a succession, from the past as the former Foundry through to the present day, with the new community now adding the next chapter in the story of the site. The sculpture responds to the history of the site as a place of work, having formerly been used as workhouse allotments, Headly's Eagle Foundry, a store yard and more recently a council depot. Taking inspiration from objects that were made by the foundry such as cast iron drainpipes that shaped themselves around a building, I have also used coloured 'high vis' lines to map out the footprint of the past buildings that existed on the site where the artwork will be placed.
Jo Chapman

Jo has also worked closely with writer and poet Hannah Walker, who through collaboration with local community mental health group Lifecraft, have written a poem called 'Graft' about the theme of work, with extracts pieced together into one cohesive poem, which is also being cast into the sculpture.

Jo wanted to include detail on the sculpture reflecting the use of the cast logos and maker's nameplates that were once used in industrial casting. To achieve this, Jo cast raised lettering into the sculpture using a realistic font type from the era to accurately depict what would have been marked on items such as sand-cast drainpipes and other industrial parts at the time of the foundry's existence.

It’s wonderful to see the progress of the sculpture now that the team at Milwyn Casting Foundry is finally casting the 3D printing elements. The use of the 3D printing really embraces a contemporary parallel with the use of cutting edge technology and the approach of Headly’s to embrace innovation
Jo Chapman

The Timekeeper sculpture will be installed at Ironworks, Mill Road in Summer 2022 as part of the Ironworks development, which will provide 236 new studio, one and two bedroom apartments and two, three and four bedroom homes on the former Mill Road depot site, with 118 private sale and 118 council rented homes.

It’s great to have the history of this important Cambridge site celebrated by the public art that residents and the local community can enjoy for years to come
Cllr Mike Todd Jones, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council and CIP board member

As part of the project, a brand new, highly sustainable community centre is being built, as well as a new on-site neighbourhood park, Eagle Park, which will feature a large play area, rainwater gardens and green open spaces.

We are really proud of the public art that is being delivered as part of our Ironworks project. As the development comes towards completion later this year, it’s great to see all the public art come to life and form an important piece of this exciting new community
Tom Hill, Regional Director of Hill