Things are going swimmingly now and I do feel that I'm on track for finishing in some form. The sculpture, barring a few adjustments, hasn't changed much from my initial designs, which I'm pretty happy about. Having never made anything on this scale before it was always going to be a bit of a baptism of fire. Something I always seem to put myself through but then what's life for if not for adventures?
The main lesson I've learnt with this one is about my new materials. Metal is funny stuff; to me anyway. This may seem obvious to some but I've realised that bending a fairly malleable steel rod one way means it will kick out the other way. You actually need to think beyond your initial bend and towards the next one. Angles are funny things too. When placing said rod against the thing I'm wanting to bend it round (in various directions), by the time I get to the vice (even though marking and trying to keep it in my mind which way and which side to bend it) I've either forgotten which way it should go or I bend it in the opposite direction. Bearing in mind I'm the type of person who has to look at her hands before be able to differentiate left or right, maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself. However, as I said before, things are going swimmingly and I can even see the light at the end of the tunnel. The full frame will be complete shortly and I've already started on some of the decoration and cladding. After raiding Albert's workshop and a recent demolition site I've got lots of random pieces of scrap that I'll fashion, tie, wire and possibly glue, if necessary, in place. Just one more day after this evening's shift and that should be it. The concrete plinth that the sculpture will be set into has been laid today and so it's just waiting for the installation on Sunday. There's a plan to do a Live Facebook broadcast of the transportation and installation so if you want a laugh seeing a metal donkey unicorn travel along a street in a small Catalan town then check out the Riba Rocks Facebook page this Sunday.
So, it's soon going to be just down to thinking of a title for the beast. Josep told me about the words for donkey in Catalan. A male donkey is called, "el ruc" and a female donkey is called, "la sumera". I quite took to the "sumera" word as it rolls of the tongue nicely. Also, because the word for sculpture in Spanish and Catalan is feminine, "La escultura" it seemed that my donkey needed to be female. So she will be ever dubbed thus. I'm going to use the word "Sumera" in the title somehow but I haven't quite decided yet.
I've definitely picked up quite a few new Spanish words (including some swear words naturally...Hostia! is a good one) and even some phrases. I need to get better at this speaking Spanish malarky as you feel such a plum not being able to communicate basic things. I'm definitely understanding more though so that's a good sign. They mostly speak Catalan here of course but one step at a time.
Right, back to the workshop!! In the meantime, here's some pics of Riba Roja d'Ebre, Phil and Anna's and Olly's works in progress and some more metal donkey.
It’s been blowing a gale and raining here. Yes, it certainly does rain in Spain and not just on the plain. We’ve had two days of super stormy weather. It’s that slightly weird, super wet but warm rain and the doors in the apartment are certainly getting a battering the wind. There’s lots thunder too. It will mean that it’s cooler so that’s all I’m concerned with.
The donkey is taking shape. The torso is complete and I’ve been working on the legs and arms today, well I guess they are all legs really. All the rods have been cut and I’ve been shaping the individual pieces. The rings for the frame legs are getting smaller and so that means much tougher to shape. I’ve just been using a vice and my brute strength to create shaping; it’s pretty rough and ready but does the job. Chris brought in a pipe bender for me that has worked wonders but there's still a fair amount of bashing with the big hammer after but getting there. I couldn’t resist the old double entendre on an Instagram post. Am I being childish? Definitely. Do I care? Not a jot.
I’ve been a little concerned about time and how far I’m getting but it’s now been sorted that I can get a few extra hours in the evening which makes me feel much better. So storming ahead is the way to go, certainly got the right weather for it.
The guys are also getting stuck in to their murals. Anna and Phil made a great start and it’s looking colourful and gorgeous already. Oli’s now got a massive step ladder so is now cracking on with the high bits. I haven’t been back up to take progress shots but will have a look later. We were there meeting the town Mayor and the ajuntement team yesterday . They seem happy with our progress so far and have been so accommodating, everything has been super easy. The town really has a great bunch of people in it, folk interested in what we are doing and eager to help in anyway. We’re really getting spoilt. Where's the Ferrero Rocher though??
Before we met the Mayor, we had another exciting meeting. This time with a snake. He may have come out of hibernation and been sleeping in a crevice. The house whose cables he was spotted slithering along is apparently empty which made us feel better. Even with this revelation, we were suspicious he was a poisonous adder as he had those distinctive diamonds on his back. According to a nearby local however, there are many different adders and he probably wasn’t dangerous. The dangerous ones are shorter, fatter and have flat heads. This one was quite long and skinny. He disappeared into another crack, probably to have another snooze.
So back to the evening shift shortly, after a snake snooze siesta…
So I'm currently sitting in a lovely air conditioned office working out steel rod lengths. It's roasting outside but I have sunscreen and I haven't been bitten by any bitey insects yet so all is well. No, I'm not in Scotland, I'm in Spain, Catalonia to be exact.
I've been pretty darn busy the last while, having just completed my first year doing my HND 3D Design: Model Making course at City of Glasgow College. It's been an absolute blast and I've learnt so much as well as made new friends. So what have I learned? Well, a bit too much to write everything down in a blog post but safe to say I'm much more knowledgeable about glueing, cutting, sanding, laser-cutting, vacuum forming, mould making, puppet making, door making, finish painting and AutoCad than I was before. So looking forward to next year. Here's a run down on the models I've made...
A 3:1 shell, a 7:1 cashew nut, 11:1 section of a silver dollar, a 1:1 half a chrome egg, a replica of a Glasgow doorway, a leather bound 17th Century book (new and aged versions), a hedgehog puppet and 1:11 replica (with a bit of artistic licence) of Labyrinth's Gates to the Goblin City complete with moving Humongous. Gawd, it makes me exhausted just thinking about it. We certainly packed it in. Oh and I also did a cheeky wee welding evening class and made a metal bird feeder.
I still need to get some proper photos of completed works but here's a wee gallery of images of my work that I have so far...
So why am I in Spain? And what's this about Donkey Unicorns, I hear you ask with trepidation? Well, I must be very wicked because I decided to head off to Spain only two days after I finished college to take part in an art project, Rui d'Art in Riba Roja d'Ebre, Catalonia. Wanting to continue my welding practice, I sent in a sculpture proposal to the project that facilitates the creation of public art in the village. The project is organised partly by some good friends of mine, that's how I found out about it, but I had never done anything like this before. They assured me, however, that I should give it a go. So with a half baked idea I put together a proposal. The final say came down to the local council (ajuntament) and the town mayor so I wasn't guaranteed a place but apparently they loved my idea, so here I am. Other artists involved with the project are Anna Georgiou, Phil Bird, Oliver Hall, Sarah Misselbrook and some local artists too. My idea? That's where the Donkey Unicorn comes in.
As an unashamed supporter for independence for Scotland from the UK, I knew Catalonia has a similar desire to be independent from Spain. With this obvious connection I thought there must be something to play with there. Scotland and Catalonia are both rich in traditional produce, though with very different things; Scotland with its wild salmon and whisky and Catalonia with its olives and wine, to name but a few. I've always had an interest in symbolism and that lead me to think about Scotland's national animal, the Unicorn. Yes, that's right, our national animal is a mythical, magical, horned horse. Then finding out that Catalonia's national animal was a similar equine beast, the Catalan donkey, the potential project's fate was sealed. A DONKEY UNICORN. Of course, I hadn't quite thought it through that I would be welding in 35+ celsius heat but in for a penny.... Sitting in this air conditioned office, fannying about with my design and calculating measurements on AutoCad, I can't quite imagine what it will be like. Early mornings will definitely be the key! I've been looked after so well already, I'm raring to go. The whole village is really up for it and helping in any ways required. It's going to be an adventurous and artistic two weeks.
Jennifer Kilgour is an artist and maker specialising in model making, sculpture, painting and drawing.
She also loves making other things like wee animations (trained in that and everything), small coffee tables (singular) and walking the family dog in the woods.