PROJECT Droitwich Salt Makers Monument
Droitwich Salt Makers Monument
The Saltworkers of Droitwich public art feature was commissioned by the town of Droitwich in Worcestershire to commemorate the town’s association with the salt industry.
John McKenna worked on the clay sculpture using local Droitwich people to pose as models for him. The distant relatives of these people had worked in the local saltworks.
The sculpture was lost wax cast in bronze and measures approx 4 ft or 1.2m diameter by 6 ft or 2m high.
The artwork depicts a short sequence of events in the making of a salt ‘lump’
The sculpture depicts a family of 19th century saltworkers, who sometimes stayed day and night at their brine boiling tank producing salt. The male figure stands bare-chested over a ‘trough of boiling brine’ with a salt rake, poised, ready to rake more salt to place into the wooden salt tub adjacent to him. See photo below. The trough contains a small frothing water fountain to simulate the ‘boiling brine tank.’ Below the tank is a view of a canal salt barge bow ‘drawing alongside.’ Moving clockwise the female figure is upturning a wooden salt tub, tipping out the salt lump. In the heat and sweat of the salt workshop she works bare chested though occasionally minimal clothing, such as a thin camisole, was worn. This practice considered so immodest when working alongside bare-chested men, drew public comment regarding these working conditions for women. Continuing round the sculpture are lumps of salt drying and waiting to be shaped by the boy wielding a ‘tapper’ bat, to ‘square’ up the salt lumps. Alongside him is the salt barge ready for loading with the salt lumps down the Droitwich canal, which was built by James Brindley especially for the purpose.