Sunday, 1 July 2007


We have almost finished - and left in a terrible rush on Friday afternoon in a state of universal exhaustion. I will go back with Islamiya for one day to finish the remaining cardboard section and to do some patching-in as there are more gaps in the canopy than I'd like. Although technically we have worked to an exact plan, the structure surprises me with the sheer movement embedded in the material - especially the cardboard sections which swirl and loop onto each other. I wanted this sense of movement and it's not in the flat graph plan. Perhaps building sculpture this way is comparable to an architect, say le Corbusier, who starts with some basic principals and extrapolates a building from these principals. Although much is determined from the start - the journey towards the end structure is precarious and by no means certain.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

week 2.2

We only have two days left, but we should be OK. I very badly over-estimated the amount of material we'd need, so there are great piles of flooring chipboard and old fencing left over, all cut into strips. I rather lament this waste of energy and resources, but I'm not sure how I could have estimated more accurately. I have begun to go back over the completed area to remove extraneous struts, as I now realise this is the best way to get the thinness of support I was looking for - plan in too many struts so it's solid while it's undergoing the stress of building, then remove half of them. I can't remove as much as I'd like, but the thinning-out is very satisfying - like the chinese game in which you keep removing sticks until the structure falls.

Monday, 25 June 2007

week 2.1

Walking back into the space, after an essential weekend's rest, I have a chance to evaluate how I feel about the sculpture. The aspects I like are that it really does feel huge and overwhelming and the decision to allow all sorts of different physical relationship to the object. there is often a frustration in looking at huge objects - like cliffs - that you want to see them from many different angles and usually you can't - you're stuck looking from the top (with it beneath your feet) or the bottom. We have already built steps to allow a bridge over the structure, and it's possible to walk right under the high points, so the structure is a roof over your head. We till have to build a viewing platform so that it can be perused like landscape. I feel worried about finishing to time, so I arrange for Andy to build the viewing platform - it will need to be really solid, and having looked into prices of stage hire for this - they are prohibitively expensive.

Friday, 22 June 2007

week 1.2

We've completed the first week of building. We began by building the small low section on the near side of the K/T boundary. This means I have a good idea of the surface and how to build it while we plot in the graph lines onto the floor... which takes far longer than I had anticipated. The main difficulty has been the scaffolding to support the structure. I'd like it to be as thin and spindly as possible, but it also needs to be robust enough to hold the huge weight of material at aver three meters. After some trials and prevarication I decide to err on the side of caution. I call Andy and together we build something a bit stronger than the wooden structures you find in adventure playgrounds... Still, by the end of the first week we have the whole length plotted, most of the materials processed into the right sized strips, and most of the scaffolding in. maybe, I think to myself, just maybe we'll finish on time.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

week 1.1

We've begun to build. I've got four people to help me - and the work will need all our time and energy for ten days, as it's huge: 12 meters long, 5 meters wide and at the highest point, 3.5 meters. Bjorn, Sam and I have worked on the data for the last two weeks getting everything right. I know, I've skipped this bit but fundamentally, there was much email to-ing and fro-ing, checking of data sets and re-compiling. In the final stage we centered the graph on the ostracod line, which makes it asymmetrical, giving a far more satisfying overall shape. I've also been ordering tools, gloves, dust masks and so on which I also pass over because it's simply relentless practicality.

Saturday - I drive from London with Islamiya and we begin work at noon. Alistair joins us in the evening taking the train from Oxford and finally Tom and Helen arrive from London the following morning. The main task now is to sort out and process the piles of junk that I've collected by type. Until we know what proportions we've got I can't decide which materials to use and therefore - what it's going to look like.

Working on the porcelain radiolaria we are much helped by passers by, some of whom passed back by today to make more.

Monday, 4 June 2007

porcelain radiolaria

I've found a clutch of drawings of radiolaria dating from 1904 on wikipedia. Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur is extraordinarily Catholic in it's imagery - with forms that owe so much more in their rendering to the sacred heart or crown of thorns than the microscopic forms themselves. A nice reminder of how culture imposes images on simple forms. I suppose I'm imposing democracy on them.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

mass contributions

Only a fortnight left now till the build and much to do. Poor Bjorn has altitude sickness in America somewhere so we're still waiting for his graphing. In the meantime more planning. Making art work is as much logistics as creativity. Maybe more. I guess the key is to be creative with the logistics, in light of which I've organised a weekend of participation over 16th/17th June so people can come and sculpt a radiolarian and drop off recycling for use in the piece. I have my fingers crossed that this sort of participation will be attractive as the piece needs more hands to it. I'm the sort of person who feels moved by communal activity - like Amish barn raising, so my work methods reflect this at times.
The work really is about mass contribution in fact, small gestures and shifts and changes leading to huge effects, and as usual the intention of the work is reflected it's making...quite unintentionally.