Worlds first installation of contemporary art at Stonehenge World Heritage Site, Wiltshire, England.
Geoffrey of Monmouth said that Merlin the wizard directed the removal of Stonehenge from Ireland, where it had been constructed on Mount Killaraus by Giants, who brought the stones from Africa.
'They call this place the Giants' Dance and say a wizard built it with stones he stole from Erin. By his arts, he flew them through the air and set them down on the great plains of Salisbury and made a ring of power to endure forever.'
On 19th June 2010 the Giant returned.
Ancient man on his knees, head thrown back arms open wide welcoming the sunrise in the east.
Incredible opportunity to invest in a unique piece of history. The Ancestor, brainchild of Michelle Topps and Andy Rawlings, created in the shadows of the famous monument, launched in an unprecedented art installation at Stonehenge for summer solstice 2010. Supported by English Heritage, decorated by the community of Amesbury, blessed by the Druids and welcomed by the 20,000 solstice celebrants and world wide media coverage The Ancestor made an incredible site. Unexpected, the visit to Stonehenge was shrouded with secrecy , The Ancestor appeared at the stones to witness the first sunrise for a decade before disappearing just as mysteriously to settle at Solstice Park, Amesbury where he provides a welcome to travellers on the main route to the west country. With a growing international fan base, 23 countries at last count, The Ancestor is set to become a truly iconic sculpture.
Peter Carson-Head of Stonehenge said: 'We are delighted to welcome The Ancestor to Stonehenge this summer solstice. Given the subject of their piece and that Andy and Michelle work locally, we felt it only right that for one night only, their sun-worshiper should take its place in sight of the stones and greet the dawn on the longest day of the year. Tens of thousands of people enjoy the solstice every year and we hope that The Ancestor will help to relieve the pressure on the stones.'
Frank Somers-Druid Aes Dana Grove: 'The Stonehenge Druids, English Heritage, The Local Community and two very Dedicated Crafts People have shown that when we all work together we can still achieve great things. We hope that all those who gather at Stonehenge for Summer Solstice this year will be inspired by the ancestor, and that the ancestors themselves would approve of the way we are honouring them"
Alex Down-archaeologist and adventurer: 'I was able to visit Michelle and Andy’s workshop several times while the Ancestor was being constructed, so I’ve seen it evolve, and it’s given me a chance to ponder its elemental appeal. The workshop is a huge agricultural shed in splendid isolation, only a mile or so from Stonehenge itself. The Ancestor is built in modules, so that it can be more easily moved and worked on. My first sight was of Michelle welding leaves of steel into the upper half of the body, with sparks flying from its massive muscles. This sight alone was enough for me to visualize the dramatic effect of the finished sculpture. The effect is heightened by the colouring and the texture of the meshed leaves of steel – it seems instinctively right for someone from our distant past.'
The Ancestor represents everyones ancestors. He has no one nationality, no one culture and no one faith. He represents a time when we were grateful for what we had and his message is we have forgotten to be grateful.
Facts and Figures
22 feet high from his knees to his head
Constructed round a heavy duty box frame and 25mm thick base and waist plates
Bolted together in sections for installation and transportation.
Comprises of thousands of randomly hand cut pieces of 3 and 5mm steel plate welded round a 6mm steel wire framework constructed to comprise shape and form.
Constructed by hand and eye, no computers were used to create The Ancestor
'The Ancestor' took 9 months, seven days a week to complete.
Launched st Stonehenge for Summer Solstice 2010
Welcomed by the community with a Druid Blessing at Stonehenge on Saturday 19th June 2010.
About The Artists
Andy and Michelle formed A&R Metalcrafts in 2006 taking advantage of redundancy to follow a dream. Andy was one of the last traditional sheet metalwork apprentices to go through Fords Motor Company in Southampton, 1978. He has worked in many areas of metal work including aircraft construction where he had to abide by minute tolerances. A master of his craft, it is these skills and an engineering mind that perfectly compliment the fantasy and artistry of Michelle, resulting in beautifully designed and crafted creations.
Michelle first swung a hammer at the age of 37 , it was life changing. With every new skill learnt she feels a motivation and inspiration missing for a long time. Living and working on Salisbury Plain, close to the ancient monument of Stonehenge they are both excited by the ancient history and folklore that surrounds them.
They are both inspired by the incredible metalworking skills and artistry of our ancestors in the home of the Amesbury Archer generally considered to be the earliest known metalworker. The precision and level of craftsmanship shown and the attention to detail made with rudimentary tools is awe inspiring. They take inspiration from the fact they live and work in the shadow of our metalworking forefathers.
Through The Ancestor Project they have seen the effect inspiring a community can have. Intended as a community interactive sculpture The Ancestor wore a poppy to support Rememberance Day and raised money for Help4Heroes with a winter solstice crown and community event. Michelle and Andy are committed to teaching and inspiring others through workshops demonstrations and community projects.
It is the beginning of a journey and the best is yet to come.
Previous works and current projects
2007 Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey. Art in the Garden. Exhibition of work.
2008 The Fair Ground, Andover. Exhibition of work.
2009 Fisherton Mill Gallery , Salisbury. Exhibition of Work.
2010 The Ancestor. Worlds first installation of contemporary art at Stonehenge for summer solstice.
The Ancestor wins an honourable mention in The Art Interview competition. Awarding Andy and Michelle exhibition space at the winners exhibition, Berlin 2012
2011 Andy and Michelle are spearheading the Heritage Sculpture Trail for the Amesbury 2012 and Beyond project. An innovative scheme to enhance the Stonehenge experience and encourage visitors and tourists into Amesbury.
Shortlisted to the final 3 for The Rosebowl Cricket Ground Commission, Eastleigh,Hampshire.
Please contact the artists through ebay for a quote for delivery and installation. The Ancestor will require the buyer to cover haulage insurance and installation costs .
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THE FINAL FIGURE WILL BE PLUS VAT.
The Ancestor is on public viewing at Solstice Park, outside The Holiday Inn westbound off the A303. If you would like to meet the artists on site to view please contact as above. Postcode for viewing SP47SQ