Description of work
This sculpture represents the selective way in which a child perceives parental support. As you move around the piece, you are presented with very different images of the father figure. At some points, the figure is totally present and strong, almost alive in the box but at the same time disjointed. From the sides, the figure disappears and you are left with an empty 'box' – those moments in life when even the most supportive parent somehow appears missing… those important times when you learn to be alone.
This piece is really playful and engaging in a childish kind of way but has heavy moments, too, given the context. It is inspired by a moment in my life when my daughter expressed how “let down” she had felt that I hadn’t attended a school match. In my mind, I had given so much over the year and been a truly present father, making the time to be at most of her big moments so it was a hard realisation for me that this single empty moment for my daughter was enough to bias a whole year of presence on my part. At the same time, I remember these same feelings towards my father moulding me as a child — and now I treasure them. The subject in ‘Behind me most of the time’ is my father.
The maquette for ‘Behind me…’ (which is actually an original piece in its own right) can be made available to the judges. Fortunately, this piece is relatively stable and easy to transport in a car with some towels wrapped around it (which is good news for the life size version). I would just like to discuss the details, as this original is precious.
It is important to bear in mind that, given the limited budget arising out of the prize, the full-scale sculpture will need to be fabricated in a very different way to the maquette. My estimate on this piece would be in the £5,000 to £7,000 range – with a very big push, this would just about cover fabrication and materials. I must stress that it will be pushing boundaries and will therefore hold an element of risk.
The concept is to ‘ink print’ ‘slices’ of my father directly onto the acrylic. A great benefit of the ink approach (as opposed to the copper used in the maquette) is that the final sculpture will have complete precision – something that hand-cut copper can’t achieve. At large scale, the ink-print precision will be fantastic. To test this proposed technique, I have been working hard on a new sculpture (not yet complete) that uses ink on acrylic (perspex) rather than copper mesh. Early indications are that this technique looks wonderful, as the ink has a certain transparency that gives a halo-type effect — we could choose the colour together depending on what kind of aesthetic you want to achieve. From a weather perspective, we will need to encase the acrylic layers in a sealed glass shell — museum-grade casing (budget permitting). My instinct is that it would also be best in a shady environment — the ink will age over time but this ageing effect will only add to the piece. Please bear in mind that the encasing glass will need to be wiped down from time to time.
‘Behind me…’ in life-size would be a wonderful experience in an outdoor environment, particularly one with such lovely geographical contours.