The sky’s the limit at PGS

Mandy Shepherd, Headmaster James Priory and creator Charlie Carter.     Picture: Peter Langdown
Mandy Shepherd, Headmaster James Priory and creator Charlie Carter. Picture: Peter Langdown

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Portsmouth Grammar School is reaching to the stars after unveiling a striking new five-metre-tall sculpture called the Celestial Microscope.

The specially commissioned work crafted by Petersfield-based artist Charlie Carter and the team at his Froxfield Green studios now stands at the entrance to the school’s science block.

It is made from green oak, douglas fir, cedar, stainless steel and copper, and represents a carbon atom at one end which can be turned to spin the solar system at the other.

Renowned wildlife and military artist and PGS parent Mandy Shepherd, who led the official unveiling ceremony, said: ‘The Celestial Microscope is absolutely incredible.

‘The component parts are awesome!

‘Charlie and his team have worked from conception to conclusion to produce a stunning piece.’

Mr Carter, who admitted the Celestial Microscope had been both technically and physically his most challenging work, said: ‘Initially the task of this commission was daunting.

‘How do you bring together science and art to create an artwork that adequately represents science in all its variety and complexity?’

He said he found inspiration and the answer researching the school’s history and its 18th century founder, Portsmouth garrison physician Dr William Smith, which led him to explore early medical instruments, microscopes and optical implements.

He explained: ‘I found my image – this idea of the micro telescope – is it a microscope is it a telescope? ‘Which end do we look through? It summed up our search for knowledge in the world around us and encapsulated this idea of looking through one end at the infinitely small and through the other end at the infinitely large.

‘I also found my period – this 18th century age of enlightenment.

‘It was a fantastic period of discovery, empirical research and voyages of discovery and that provided me with a huge, rich vein of ideas and imagery that brought art, science, navigation and Portsmouth’s history of maritime exploration into a beautiful and logical conjunction.’