Award-winning Swiss artist Raphael Hefti performed a spectacular live casting of a sculpture for Pullman Liverpool.
The artist transformed part of Kings Dock into a makeshift studio and film set where the performance took place at a VIP event hosted by the luxury four-star hotel, for a commission by ACC Liverpool and Liverpool Biennial.
Hefti demonstrated his signature thermite welding technique, a dramatic process for melting and joining steel, and the performance was recorded from start to finish before being screened for the first time that same evening.
The heat generated in an industrial setting – where temperatures reach 2,500 degrees Celsius – means that documenting this type of process is usually impossible.
However, the outdoor setting of Hefti’s welding studio allows the film crew to get their cameras remarkably close to the action.
Using a 150lb, 4k resolution, ultra-high definition camera that captures 2,000 images per second resulted in a digital artwork for the hotel and it will be shown on TVs in the hotel’s bedrooms.
The thermite welding technique employed by Hefti was invented for the reparation of train tracks in 1893, and Hefti used it to pay homage to the instrumentality of the railway network between the Port of Liverpool and the rest of the country during Liverpool’s maritime glory days in the 19th century.
Hefti and his team used a 80-tonne pile of sand as a temporary foundry to create a sculpture which will remain in the hotel as a legacy of the performance. Lava-like flows of liquid metal poured down the sand, sending sparks and thick, colourful smoke swirling into the air.
Neil Brailsford, general manager of Pullman Liverpool, said: “Raphael Hefti is an artist who is unparalleled in contemporary art.
“Watching his performance which paid homage to the rich and diverse history of Liverpool’s maritime legacy was a very special experience. Our guests enjoyed their front row seats as they witnessed how Hefti bought his vision to life in a sculpture that will be kept in the hotel for future visitors to experience and enjoy.”
Pullman Hotels & Resorts has an unwavering commitment to design, art, photography and local culture and house an extensive, independent collection of art, which is on permanent display for guests and visitors to enjoy across its portfolio of international addresses.