Our friend Luke Perry talks about the Farohar, the Black Country and bringing his gorgeous baby to the Temple…
To create the Farohar it was necessary for me to conduct two forms of direct research. The first was to meet with the people of the Temple and ambassadors of Zoroastrianism to discover the most important points which needed to be represented in the iconic form of the Farohar. This would ensure that I ticked all of the major boxes for things such as number of wings, direction of the figure, relative sizes etc.
The second form of research was to look at the other ways that Farohar has been represented, I could only find them represented two dimensionally or carved into stone but the varied nature of the ways that people had depicted them surprised me. From ancient stone relief’s to tattoo’s there has always been variety in the depiction, but at the same time there were common points between all of the depictions. It was my job to develop a design which embraced the spirit of Zoroastrianism and the Black Country. I represented the necessary points and at the same time set a new precedent by creating a 3D Farohar, as far as I knew no one had ever seen a Farohar’s back!
Once we had decided upon scale I began the fabrication of the artwork. Using traditional blacksmithing methods with flame to create heat I could shape the individual feathers which I symmetrically built up to create the wings. Welding each feather to the last and grinding back the excess metal I could create the smooth look of muscle and feather.
The detailed parts such as the rings, the figure and his outfit I cut using a Profile burner. This involves me drawing out each individual part onto paper and using a mechanical process a set of oxyocetaline burners would cut these parts from steel. These parts, once ground back, could be welded together to create the features of the man.
As soon as each wing, the figure and the plinth were made I could use a light projector and a white wall to work out the exact positioning and weld them all together into the final shape.
Raaj Shamji and Jyothi Ramaiah came to the factory at a critical point in the build process. The figure was nearly completed and they were able not only to see how it was going to look in a near complete state but also they were able to weld on the larger of the rings. Raaj was personally responsible for permanently fixing the large ring in place (so if it’s a bit squiffy blame him, it’s not though so we’ll let him off).
At this point the Faroahar was a blue black with shining parts of ground steel, this was then taken to a shot blasting booth in Lye where Aluminium beads were fired at the artwork to create a matt even finish in readiness for the final finishes.
Tata Steel was used for the artwork as steel is the traditional material of the area. The Black Country is famed as the workshop of the world and birthplace of the industrial revolution. Forges and furnaces have made iron and steel in this area for centuries so it seemed the natural medium for the artwork. As well as being solid and malleable it has a great life span, I expect the Farohar sculpture to outlive me and hopefully last long into the next century.
I am really excited about the open day event, it will be a wonderful occasion when people can see the revealed Farohar. I am very proud of the sculpture but this doesn’t stop me being a little nervous about what I hope will be a good response from the community of the Temple and their Parsi friends. I also am very keen to see the piece on its site, I have planned the various sightlines out and we hope that the light from the south will really glow on the final rusted finish, it seems appropriate that we will reveal in in Autumn when there will be so many complementary colours.
However I feel that the most exciting part of this process will be bringing my family to the Temple to see my work, especially my 10 week old daughter and her proud mum.
If I am hopeful of one thing above all others it is that this piece stands as a monument to the union of different peoples in the Black Country, and as a solid reality that together we can create beautiful things when cultures meet.
A little about Luke:
Luke Perry is the Director of Industrial Heritage Stronghold, an art organisation born out of an idea to create sculptures and artworks which act as lasting symbols of the proud communities that they are in. He lives and works in the Black Country where both sides of his family have been metal workers for over 250 years.