Having finalised the construction method for House of Cards, I have been busy completing the proposed installation sequence for the exhibition organisers, and trying to finalise the budget.   I found out that one of my grant applications was successful!  I have received 15,000 Danish krone (about £1500) for the project, in addition to the 10,000 I got from the exhibition organisers.  I have also had two rejections, one from the Danish Arts Council last Autumn, and one from another private fund, Beckett Fonden.  Still…it feels like a minor triumph to have been granted the money, especially since I laboured through the application in Danish. There are still a few outstanding, another score would be very much appreciated.

Meanwhile; the devil is in the detail they say…  I began checking dimensions of wood/steel.  The sculpture – of which I include more photos here, since I realise there is only the one at the top of the blog – is to be built of a wood frame, clad with støbekrydsfiner. This I think might be called coated plywood in English.  Once sanded it gives a much smoother surface than ordinary plywood, since it’s coated with plastic.   The structure will be reinforced with steel construction (HEB) beams, but these can only be inserted on site at the point of installation because the sculpture will only just fit in the lorry for transport anyway, in parts, without steel beams sticking 80cm out of the bottom. So the solution (such a Danish phrase…! They love talking about ‘solutions’) has been to design channels into the wooden interior frame, for the main three part structure anyhow.  These will house the steel beams once the thing is erected.  That means you need a good fit though, and in the past few days I discovered that 10x5cm wood actually meant a variable, ca. 9.5cm x 4.7cm wood, and that 10x10cm HEB beams actually meant more like 10.4 x 10 cm.

I am also having last minute dilemmas about paint colour.  The original maquette I made was sprayed with aerosol spray, but I quickly realised I couldn’t do that for the full scale sculpture. It needed a paint gun.  But matching the colour of the paint to the maquette is proving a headache. I have a number of sample panels laid out in the studio and am systematically trying different paint samples.   Of course I didn’t undercoat the original maquette, I have realised, so the fact I have undercoated my samples (partly to aid adherence of the paint to the plastic coated plywood) with white, also means they come out lighter.  I’m now faced with a situation where the closest colour match is like a slightly cold putty colour; I prefer a warmer tone, but the one I have is much lighter than the maquette.  Coupled with the fact that my maquette is tiny and the surfaces in the final event will be much larger, and seen outside, probably in bright sunlight (it will be June), compounds the problem of which paint I should go for….headache!


One of my former classmates from the painting degree at City and Guilds of London Art School, India Dewar, is in this show.


House of Cards has been a massive eyeopener for me in terms of the sheer amount of bureaucracy and preparation relative to the amount of time spent actually making, that goes into realising a large public sculpture like this.    At the moment I need to fill in and return to the site manager freight information forms and forms relating to the installation sequence for the work, how long it will take, what machinery will be needed, what site crew we will need to help us etc.etc.   I have been extremely lucky in that my husband works at DTU, the Danish Technical University, where he was able to find a structural engineer who did a few calculations and decided that what was needed was HEB 100, steel construction beams, an industry standard I have learnt, spaced every 1.2m to reinforce the structure against the wind, which can be strong in Aarhus.

Then yesterday I was finally able to meet up with the extremely busy carpenter who will actually make the structure (frantic calls to the childminder to look after my son for an extra half hour..). The build will begin, probably on 20 April, in a carpentry workshop in Roskilde.   Once the structure is assembled, I will paint it as far as possible, before it is disassembled, packed and freighted to Aarhus.  Then the real fun and games will begin.  It reminds me of preparing for an outside radio broadcast (my previous career).  You do all the preparation you can, while averting your eyes and thoughts from the actual result, focusing on the moment you just steer towards it and hope all the  steps in between will get to you to the desired place on time.

Meanwhile, I learnt that two smaller sculptures I submitted for the concurrent indoor exhibition Sculpture Inside, have been accepted.  This was a big boon for me, I studied for a painting degree rather than sculpture, and have always felt – as if I don’t often feel this with paintings or drawings! – that I don’t know how to go about making sculpture.  These are a bit random, in that they don’t follow particularly from anything I was doing before, but I am pleased particularly with Lord of the Dance, which really grew out of the materials and I think works quite well..publish and be damned….