“Lasting Impression”

15 08 2012

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The brief was to create an enduring tribute to someone I admire, living or dead. I chose to create a memorial bench dedicated to the (very much alive) sculptor Anish Kapoor, as the body of work he has created over three decades has left a lasting impression on me.

My idea is to create a high quality slatted bench with a sculpted impression in the slats at one end that looks as though someone (perhaps Kapoor himself) has recently sat down on it and left his shape behind in the wood, frozen in time. I hope it will embody his dictum: ‘Don’t give too much away.’

Not having physical access to Mr. Kapoor’s backside, my first step is to make a three-dimensional impression of my own rear end using foam soaked with plaster-of-paris and wrapped in a bin liner.  After 45 minutes it’s set enough for me to gently get up, and then I can take a positive cast from the mould using more plaster.

I cut the mould into slices that I use as templates for cutting out the wooden slats, which are all of different thicknesses, distributed randomly.

The material for the bench is recycled kauri, a wood I enjoy using as it has a straight grain with few knots, and a beautiful golden colouring.

All that remains is final assembly, smoothing down, and oiling. I’m very happy with the way the uneven contours of the sculpted slats reflect the smooth flowing lines of a landscape – a motif often used by Kapoor.

I must say I like the final result. It’s an immediately comprehensible piece that also manages a certain irony – it evokes a single instant in time at which someone simply sat down, an effect that actually took me a week of careful planning and painstaking execution to achieve. It’s also extremely comfortable to sit on – at least for me, being precisely my shape – and the cat seems to like it too.

The highly personal nature of moulded impressions sculpted into a seat would make this design a rather touching heirloom piece for a family. It struck me recently that, if I could persuade some famous people to ‘sit’ for me, I could create a whole series of ‘Celebrity Lasting Impressions’.

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