Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Planning clothes

While working out the general movement and anatomy in the maquette, I try to be mindful of what might develop well in the full-size.  This includes the drapery (clothing) and the possibilities for abstract forms therein to balance each other and generate visual flow around the work.  Simplified drapery offers opportunities to compose harmonies and occasional dissonance that give the work character and excitement.

In my composition for Matthew Flinders, there are three main drapery 'groups'.

1/ The breeches: in this position they have a fast, dynamic stretch to them.  I need to make sure that the pulls strung between anatomy (ie where is is wrapped onto flesh or bone) explain the air beneath to catch that speed.

2/The waistcoat: this has a slow-moving quality on the front that is full of langorous folds while the back is gently describing the turn of the shoulders. The overall effect is of thicker, more homely fabric; avuncular even.

3/ The shirt: this is seen only at the collar and arms and has a buoyant feel.  It should help lighten the top half of the figure and go some way to suggesting movement.  This is going to be a bugger to model...hundreds of interlocking turns and kicks that have to be simplified down to something coherent.

To start looking at this and create something for reference, I have commissioned the fabulously adaptable Liz Gurney (Liz has worked in and taught costume-making for years and can turn her hand to anything) to research and mock-up an historically accurate set of clothes from source patterns and with fabric that is as close to the character and weight of the originals.

Liz unpacks the clothes

Liz does the first fit with our model, Robert Doyle.  Notice how much extra fabric there is on the backside.  The reason for this will become clear in about 20 posts time.

Rob prepares to test drive the togs.

I like the breeches...see what I mean about the speed?....and the shirt...look at those folds on the sleeves..depending on your point of view, they look like either Brancusi's endless column or a modular rubble shute.

 The waistcoat, however, is simply not the right looks too Liz makes adjustments to the size so that she can use it as a pattern for the next one to be made in felt or wool.  Moleskin might do the job as well.

"The Man Who Mapped Australia"

A parcel arrived the other day from Amanda Purdie, a friend in Melbourne.  Amanda was a PR supremo in London and is now back at home following a 20 year spell with us.  The parcel had this book in it...

...the cover and blurb suggests a ripping yarn woven around historical fact.  

This will be my second book on Matthew Flinders.  The first is by the indomitable Peter Ashley of the Royal Navy.

Pierhead Press.

This book is a finely honed and beautifully written summary of Matthew Flinders and his achievements. It does not shy away from the uncomfortable and, sometimes, toe-curling realities of 18C naval life.  The book continues to be my way in to my subject.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Press after launch July 2013,life-size-statue-of-matthew-flinders-to-be-erected-at-euston-station

Launch day. 24th July 2013

Today the project is being launched with a reception at Australia House hosted by the Government of South Australia.  It is a big event and my first port of call is Euston Station for some publicity shots.

I only have two suits and the other is a made of flourescent green corduroy.

Thanks to photographer Andre Camara for good shots under pressure.  Just behind me is a fifty foot sheer drop onto the concourse and in front of me Andre was manoeuvring himself in and around an increasingly disgruntled luncheon party to get the right angle.

The maquette unveiling ceremony was held in the magnificent Downer Room at Australia House, Strand, London.  The project is being funded by sales of maquettes.  There are 75 available.

I explain my ideas to the guests. 
 With me are Australian High Commissioner, The Hon Mike Rann and Agent General Bill Muirhead

Sir Michael Marshall (left) and Sir Stuart Rose discuss the maquette

The wonderful evening was marked by brisk maquette sales and rounded off with a group photograph of the Flinders statue committee.
From left to right: Barry Kitchener, standard -bearer Gil Richards, Peter Ashley, Allesandra Pretto, John Allen, Matt Johnson, Pauline Lyle-Smith, John Flinders and Mark Richards.

Maquette in bronze

The figure of Matthew, Trim the cat and the base map are cast to bronze separately and assembled.  I had originally conceived it as one cast; the figure merged into the base.  As the maquette developed however, I felt that the base needed to be crisp and clean-cut against the textured, organic feel of the figurative elements. I felt that it was more in keeping for the elements to be cast apart and then joined.

Ben is a master of chasing metal. Bronze sculptures are cast in sections (with sprues for running metal and releasing air), welded together and cleaned back to the original form.  It takes precision and a good eye to do this well and Ben has both.  Here he is positioning and marking the contact parameters prior to drilling the fixings.

I check the position.  With his left leg so far out, making the contact points roughly equidistant from the circumference would send his head and torso too far over to the right leg side, so I juggle this to get a balance.

Scott does wonders with chemicals and can transform base metals into pretty much anything. He is also a man of karmic patience.  This is the first of his three attempts to read my mind as to how I wanted the base to look.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mould and wax

Silicon rubber is pasted over the plasters

And a fibre glass jacket goes over the top.

Juggles, or registration handles, lock the rubber mould into the jacket.  The mould for the base is on the left and the tube in the background is for Trim....note that Trims mould has no jacket - this is because an alternative with smaller pieces, is to use a drainage pipe as a wall, place the sculpture inside and simply pour in the rubber.  The thickness of the rubber holds its shape. 

Each section of mould is registered to its neighbour with nipples.

A section of mould, or 'cap', snug in its jacket ready to be painted in with hot wax.

Once the hollow wax positive is made, here by Amy Sterly at Castle Fine Arts Foundry, I check it over...

....using the plaster master copy for reference.