Sculptor shapes up on the beach

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The Independent Online
BRIGHTON beach will never look the same again. A 5- metre high cast-iron abstract sculpture, titled Passacaglia, was yesterday being bolted into the shingle by its sculptor, Charles Hadcock - with the help of a crane and a team of engineers and foundrymen.

It weighs 20 tonnes - only a tenth the weight of Antony Gormley's Angel of the North, hoisted on a hill outside Gateshead last month - but hefty enough to satisfy the current civic yearning for monumental modernism.

"It's big, it's brave, it's bold", said Lord Bassam, Brighton's council leader, "and it's very Brighton. Like Brighton, it will definitely have a strong reaction."

Like Brighton? Not quite. Though unmistakably contemporary, Hadcock's design relies on almost-forgotten rules of correct proportion, taken from nature, that were cherished as divine by the ancient Greeks and Romans and guarded as secrets ever since by shady fraternities. The patterned heads of sunflowers, the coils of sea shells - and the facade of the Parthenon - are said to share the same divine geometry.

Does it work? A passer-by, watching Hadcock, 32, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, wielding a spanner, told him: "It's such a pleasing shape, but I don't know why."

"That," Hadcock replied, relishing the moment, "is because it's got sacred geometry."

"It really works," Hadcock said with a grin. "I find that eight out of ten people say they prefer it. People really do know what they like."

Hadcock took his inspiration for the sculpture from the first-century Roman architect Vitruvius. The structure, which is sited opposite Brighton promenade's greasy-spoon caffs and souvenir shops, cost pounds 40,000. It was funded with the help of the National Lottery. It might have amused the ancients to watch holidaymakers, candyfloss in hand, trying to locate the divine in 20 tonnes of cast iron.