Finalised Designs

Going with the reverse idea of my design process, I’ve gone off some vague shapes from the initial sketches and created a model towering shape that subtly references a the industries’ building elements (e.g. Cooling towers).


Paper Maquette


Illustrator Model


Sculpture (Coloured and Textured)

Using illustrator I’ve created an image of the model, adding spillage elements that make point to the Coalite explosion.

( – Report on the Coalite explosion

I’m hoping to light up the sculpture from the inside at night, (look at older sketches) giving two different outlooks, a beaming light similar to work of Anthony McCall.


Site Photos – Exploring Possibilites

I went out to look at the site I am planning to place my sculpture within, unfortunately it is fenced off, however looking at online images others have been exploring within the deserted complex. These are just a few photos taken by me, what is shown is how far I could see.




Context: The Coalite – History and Mystery?

The Coalite chemical company was a thriving industrial business invented in the early 20th century. ‘Coalite’ is the burning of coke then used as a smokeless fuel. The industry began to shrink during the 80’s and closed down officially in 2004, leaving a trail of waste and pollution in its path.

I’m planning on placing the sculpture in this context due to the current nature and surroundings of the location I wish to place it within. Now that the site is discarded debris and contamination resides and rots, which I see as an interesting platform for a response and reminder to the scar on the landscape.

The particular site I’m looking at is based in Bolsover, Derbyshire which was partly the company’s HQ.


Chemical Coalite – Laboratory, Bolsover, May 2010 (

Chemical Coalite, Bolsover, 2011 (

The site is now abandoned and laying to waste, clean-up proposals have been made and put forward however taking years to sort.

I look at the surrounding are and it makes me think of these words:

  • Uncanny
  • Desolation
  • Decay

An ideal location and context to place my sculpture, also it would be a suitable solution as to what will become of the place.


Chemical Coalite, Bolsover, September 2006 (

‘A Towering Explosion’



Notebook pages

Some further sketching, deciding on a number of key things:

  • The sculpture aesthetically works to be made up of two parts
  • a funnel structure best conveys my idea of a ‘portal’ image
  • Title is a personal explanation and relation to the context which plans to be the Coalite industry – based in Derbyshire

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Some accidental photo of the unknown?

A post shared by Sam Joseph🖍 (@samjoepp) on


Documenting ideas and research on social platforms

The Maquette: Materials/Change of direction

First question about making the sculpture:

What materials are on offer/shall I use?

I think steel is the most appropriate material to use for the sculpture considering the physical impact that the material needs to have, also the loose relation to the coal industry (manufacturing and machine). (Furthermore looking at ideas and sketches I have been producing in my notebook)


Wood pieces, mesh fabric, sale tape


Notebook pages

I initially thought of the idea to create a fluid funnel, using two block ends to wrap this ‘funnel’ around. The materials proved difficult to work with, especially considering the multiple elements. I’m after a connected form that envelopes itself but also gives the sense of imploding.

  • Perhaps something with more structure? A single sheet of material?

Cartridge paper

This is what I was after. The paper shapes to my manipulation, giving a dynamism and an image of singularity. A dimension that cannot be related to any existing shape or form, it is an unknown object of mystery.

*This potentially could change my process, as the nature of the construction allows for spontaneity, rather than working to a  current design. 


Notebook pages



Felt fabric

I have also been testing felt, which proved unsuccessful, the structure which I needed did not lie here, as the flimsy form was too loose and flexible to the touch.

  • “Too spongy”
  • Fluctuant form is too unstable
  • However the colour emphasises an uncanny, dark tone. something that I could apply to the sculpture?

Initial Concepts

Whilst I’ve been gathering relevant research, I’ve been sketching and documenting various ideas. The general feeling is I want to create an experience, something that one can mentally interact with.

I’ve been considering multiple concepts, including those relating to locations around where I live:

  • Coalite industry
  • Unearthly
  • The Unknown
  • Spacial

The now-derelict Bolsover coalite site was shut down more than a decade ago and is now a repulsive, contaminated scar on the land. Perhaps to create a sculpture related to the unfortunate events that happened?




Notebook sketches


Some notes I wrote down during the research were:

  • “Disorientating”
  • “Going into something”
  • “Fearful because of size”
  • “Windows”
  • “Shallow light”

Using these notes and research I have begun to contextualise and understand better what I wish to convey. Minimalism is a key factor, stripping back to the essentials in order to erase all visual realism and achieve maximum impact. This creates a sense of mystery and uncertainty, leaving the audience to speculate and use their curiosity.