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Public Art, Wakefield Kirkgate Station

A new public artwork on the approach to a West Yorkshire mainline station exploits the scope to create smooth lines and a robust finish offered by a Parex mineral render system.

A new public artwork on the approach to a West Yorkshire mainline station exploits the scope to create smooth lines and a robust finish offered by a Parex mineral render system.

Jo Fairfax selected the system for his new work outside Wafefield’s refurbished Grade II listed Kirkgate Station after winning a competition to design a feature wall 18.5m long x 1.8m high in a form inspired by the railway carriages of a passing train.

Using the Parex system he was able to create soft, flowing curves and to introduce a series of “perforations” through the wall to create the impression of windows in railway carriages.
These serve to create a connection between Monk Street, where the wall is situated, through to the public space beyond, and, when hurrying towards the station to catch a train, create a sound similar to that of a passing train. The landmark structure is intended to signal and promote a key gateway to Wakefield city centre in an area scheduled for substantial upgrading and redevelopment.

The commission was awarded to Jo Fairfax following a competition organised on behalf of funders Wakefield Council by Beam, a public art commissioning and project management specialist, also based in the city.

The structure of the wall features a timber-framed core with Knauf Aquapanel as its main substrate and a base coat of Parex Maite incorporating Parex 355 AVU mesh to provide reinforcement and prevent cracking. The finishing coat comprises spray-applied Parex EHI mineral render in Natural White (G00).

The system provided the capability to meet key aspects of the design. Explains Jo Fairfax: “I wanted a surface that could be perforated, would allow me to create nice curves and looked beautiful.

"By penetrating through the form there is a subtle reference to Hepworth’s important sculptural language where she pierced the form to reveal the real volume, mass and space rather than implying it."

The use of render also allowed the artist to incorporate lettering into the finished surface to form a quote. Adds Jo Fairfax: "The quote is made by inserting letters into the form before Parex’s render. The letters are then removed leaving inset letters which subtly catch the light. This is illuminated from below at night time. The quote is by local Wakefield novelist George Gissing and is the spirit of taking a journey and how ones mind tends to wander and wonder."

Holes in the artwork are lined with bright yellow resin to give a visual lift in all lighting conditions and the top of the wall has been deliberately curved to prevent its use as a "litter shelf".

The fabric of the wall has been constructed by well-known sculptor Sebastien Boyesen who is the design and fabrication consultant to Jo Fairfax, while sub-contract specialist applicators for the render were Mark Schofield and Marc Loxley of Bradford-based Sprayrender.

Adds Jo Fairfax: "The people from Parex and Sprayrender were very helpful and enthusiastic throughout and the end result is superb."

The new artwork is part of a wider £5.6 million scheme which has seen the regeneration of Kirkgate Station, which first opened in 1840, back to its former glory, as the first phase in an eventual multi-million pound redevelopment of the whole area.

The project was led by Groundwork Wakefield, with partner organisations including Wakefield Council, the Department for Transport, Network Rail and West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

"It is the mind which creates the world around us"
George Gissing

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Multi-purpose mortar suitable for a range of uses including as a thin base coat, an insulation adhesive and dash receiver for external wall insulation systems.

355 AVU Reinforcement Mesh

High strength reinforcement mesh which has ETAG and BBA approval.


Through-coloured renders suitable for use with the PAREXTHERM and PAREXDIRECT render systems and available in 48 standard colours.