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Construction of showpiece item 'Barton's Chair' begins

This autumn, Oxford Biochemistry graduate turned sculptor, Briony Marshall has been developing a scale model of the chair isomer of the Cyclohexane, a molecule which holds great significance for Tonbridge School.

Barton’s Chair, is a large-scale permanent installation which will hang in the central atrium of the new Science Centre, opening in early 2019.

Work began this summer, and first involved creating a wax model 1/3 of the size of the final sculpture

It celebrates the achievements of OT chemist, Sir Derek Barton, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1969 for his contributions to the development of ‘conformational analysis’, through which he was able to identify the geometry of Cyclohexane, and various other organic molecules.

The sculpture, which will be 8 billion times the life size of the Cyclohexane molecule, re-imagines its structure as a network of adult and child figures, evoking imagery of human connection and cooperation, and commemorating the words of eminent OT author, EM Forster; ‘Only Connect.’

The mould, scaled up to full size, in clay, ready to be handed over to fabricators for the next stage of its creation

Sculptor, Briony Marshall said:

“It was important to create a scientifically accurate representation of the molecule whilst creating believable and engaging figures that show the energy of the pose and the bonds between the different atoms.

The larger Carbon atom is represented by a male adult figure, whilst the smaller Hydrogen atoms are represented by a young child. The arms and legs of the adult and the right arm of the child represent the covalent bonds that hold the molecule together, demonstrating how Carbon likes to form four bonds whereas Hydrogen only forms one. They are deliberately connected in an intimate pose – through held hands – to represent importance and value of human connection across barriers.”

3D model of sculpture hanging in the central atrium of the Science Centre

Barton’s Chair is one of five showpiece items now available for sponsorship. To find out more about sponsorship and naming opportunities, contact:

Andrew Whittall
Director of the Tonbridge Society

T: +44 (0) 1732 304253

  • Barton Science Centre