Cornford and Cross
Where is the Work? 2004

Cast iron floor grille
For Perfectly Placed, curated by Donna Lynas
South London Gallery


We removed the old grille from the heating vent set into the floor of the South London Gallery, and replaced it with a new one.

To produce the new grille, we had the old grille ‘reverse engineered’ by a product design company, who produced a computer-aided third angle projection drawing. All measurements on the drawing were increased by one ninety-sixth to allow for the fact that cast iron shrinks as it cools. Flaws and signs of wear in the old grille were not reproduced. We took the technical drawing to a pattern maker, who produced a three-dimensional positive model. We delivered this pattern to an iron foundry where it was pressed into sand to create a mould from which the new iron grille was cast.

So the new grille is not the result of a simulated re-enactment of the original casting process, nor is it an identical replica. It is neither better nor worse than the old grille.

The investment of time, labour and resources is ‘invisible’. The new grille will remain as a functional part of the architecture of the South London Gallery, while the old grille will enter the Gallery’s permanent collection.

Visitors to the Gallery might be able to tell which of the two grilles is real and which the interloper, if the two were to be seen together. Yet the work exists not only in the material realm, but as a set of reciprocal relationships between the cognitive, perceptual and psychological.

the empty interior of the South London Gallery

South London Gallery, Photograph courtesy of the South London Gallery

Reverse engineering drawing of iron floor grille from South London Gallery

Preparing mould for casting replacement grille, Whitton casting, London

Casting the grille, Whitton casting, London

Removing the grille from its mould, Whitton casting, London

'Where is the Work?' 2004, Permanent installation, South London Gallery