Sunday, January 27, 2013

My elephant gets a name and some legs.

Today I asked myself "what do I have lying around that will assist me in getting the enormous elephant torso onto her legs? Now let's see, some kind of crane? I know, an extension ladder, some rope, some bolts, some advice from my friend John, then put them all together. Piece of cake! Up she goes, slip the legs under lower her back down."
We decided to call her Sati. Sati was the daughter of Shiva. A significant name for me because this was one of the last big sculptures I attempted in the early 1990s before I became profoundly ill with Solvent induced neuro toxicity. Sati means "to remember" or "to be mindful." My being able to revisit this project with a fresh view is very cathartic for me as my confidence returns along with my health.
  I recall with some sadness the circumstances under which this elephant was delivered to her new home. I had been working harder that ever before to meet a deadline for the Zoo. The client had hoped for a more ambitious result than what she received so she was unhappy, looking for anamatronics, lights and sound to accompany the educational cutaway of the elephant's anatomy. This could not be achieved in the timeframe I was working in nor in the budget that I had calculated to complete her.
The owners of the company I was working for saw an opportunity to extend their profile.I had been working continuously for 36 hours when exhausted I delivered the finished elephant to the zoo early one morning, She was unloaded and set on her feet. Kashin was led up the path  and introduced to her new synthetic cousin. Kashin wreathed her trunk around the newcomers, a New Zealand Herald photographer took the photograph which was to appear the next day on the front page of the morning paper of both elephants saluting each other, face to face. I was interviewed by the journalist, who took my words and recorded them. As journalists will those words were reinterpreted by the editors with all mention of the companies name erased from the transcript. 
A scan of the photo that appeared in the Thursday morning NZ Herald July 9 1992. Kashin on the left greets Sati ( article by Angela Mollard Photo by Tim Mackrell )
I was called in to the owners office and dressed down for not mentioning his firm to the journalist, he accused me of taking all the credit. This was too much for me. It was not long before I resigned, disillusioned and heartbroken that so much of my creative effort was to be so undervalued.
Satisfaction is the word that comes to mind now. Hence the chosen name "Sati" for me, short for satisfaction, that combined with the Buddist / Hindu meaning to remember, to be mindful, here is my chance to redeme the situation.
A few anxious moments but she dropped neatly in to place.
Sati is almost reunited with her legs.





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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Elephant restoration begins

I've begun the process of restoring my elephant by giving her a thorough wash.

She, hold on a minute, she doesn't have a name!

What about a face book "name the elephant" suggestions box?

Now that she's had a pressure wash to remove 21 years of grime it's time to repair a few areas of damage.

A large crack had developed over time which created a deep fissure from her left shoulder across to her right temporal lobe. I began by injecting some "space invader" foam from an aerosol can. This polyurethane foam fills and adheres as it cures. The foam expands many times its initial volume to overflowing the application area. Once cured it looks like fresh bread, it cuts extremely well with a fish knife. This done all that remains to be done is to fill in the cut away side of the body which I will do with more urethane foam.


You can just make out my repair above her right eye.


A rear view of her legs. I built this base to support her upper torso to allow zoo staff an easier time moving her from place to place.

I'm enjoying working around her again, she has quite a presence in our confined driveway space.

In this image you can clearly see the aluminium support armature in the form of an X. This welded, box section structure runs down each leg to the tang that protrudes from the base of each foot.
Here's another good view of the repaired crack on her head.

Torso and body are ready to be reunited, I have to wait for the lifting crane next week.

She seems to be enjoying the attention!



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Elephant Fever, the only cure ? Another dose!

January 23rd 2013 Julie and I collected the elephant I built for the Auckland Zoo 21 years ago, in 1992.

We were met by helpful Zoo staff who assisted with lifting the elephant sculpture, which is in 2 pieces, on to our roof rack and trailer ready for our 300 km homeward journey.

Outside the northern gates of the Auckland Zoo.

Julie and our precious load.

Harmen and his elephant

I'm relievd that the young man who made this thought about future moves during design and construction.

This is definitely her better side. The other is cut away to reveal the internal anatomy of an elephant. I plan to cover that area up and integrate her back into a fully formed pachyderm.
This is how she originally appeared when finished. That's me at age 34 on the left.

Briar. Coloured pencil on paper.

Coloured pencil drawing from the early 1990's