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Stainless Vision

Stainless Vision

Inspiration from Medieval Tale

The lance used by St George to slay the dragon in Medieval mythology - Ascalon - has inspired a stunning addition to Perth’s St George’s Cathedral forecourt.

Ascalon portraitAscalon, designed by Perth artist Marcus Canning and New York based Christian de Vietri, was chosen as the winning piece from an international competition attracting 99 entries.

The sculpture features an 18m grade 316 stainless steel telescopic pole with a mirror finish, surrounded by a billowing white fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) ‘cape’, which represents St George on his steed.

ASSDA Accredited Fabricator Diverse Welding Services was commissioned by engineers and project managers Capital House Australasia to create the pole, which weighs about 2 tonnes.

Capital House managing director John Knuckey said the artists had a vision for the sculpture and his team’s role was to make it happen. He said the strength of the central pole was a concern for the artists, while the structural engineers were strongly focussed on minimising vibrations and maximising stiffness.

Capital House’s research indicated that 316 would be the most appropriate grade and their interest in selecting from standard sections determined the dimensions.

“The pole also had to be dead straight because people would pick it by eye if it wasn’t,” Mr Knuckey said. “We had no desire to compromise on quality but we were concerned that polishing would be too expensive, so originally only the bottom third was going to be mirror polished. In the end Diverse Welding Services said they could achieve a mirror finish on the entire pole and they did an excellent job.

“At first we weren’t sure who to trust with the job, but once we had visited Diverse Welding’s factory, we knew they were the right people.”

Diverse Welding Services director Karl Schmidt said their main challenge was determining the weld design to ensure the work conformed to AS1554 Part 6.

They welded together stainless steel pipe in differing dimensions to create the telescopic shape of the pole and produced joining spigots from plate (supplied by ASSDA Member Stirlings Australia), enabling the pole to be bolted to the FRP ‘cape’.

Ascalon joining spigotsThe sections were rotated on horizontal positioners and welded using stainless steel flux cored wire and TIG welding processes. The pole was given a full mirror finish and passivated using a citric based product.

Artist Marcus Canning said Diverse Welding and Capital House were fantastic to work with on the project.

“It was a late decision to shift to a telescopic design, which increased the complexity of the job under a pressured timeline, but they rolled with it and did what they had to do to get the job done, and done right,” Mr Canning said.

“The pole is such an important element to the work now it’s in situ and responding to the elements - the mirror finish makes its quality shift dramatically throughout the day and night as lighting conditions change.”

The sculpture was created following a $500,000 donation from Australian prospecting geologist Marc Creasy to the Cathedral Arts Foundation, and the only guideline was the theme of St George and the dragon.

Images courtesy of Marcus Canning.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 48, Autumn 2011.

Lissel Pilcher