Animals in War
The Animals in War project was an imense task that had to be completed within a time frame from March to November in order to be opened by HRH Pricess Anne for rememberance day.
120 tones of stone delivered from Portland to the city.
It was approriate to sculpt the frieze on site as the deadline limited any possibility of a dry fix elswhere prior to the site work. The cost implications for that scenario would have been astronomical. Also the more you handle the stone there is a greater possibility of damage. So, to limit loading and unloding was a good outcome from the tight deadline.
With the method of carving the stones post installation they would never move again and risk damage. there are always advantages and disadvantages. The disadtvantage was that there was more sitework and I needed to travel everyday from Cambridge. However I Iiked working in London at that time and the train service from Cambridge was very good.
The wall itself has a deliberate 12 degree lean and is post tensioned at intervals.
Myself and business partner at the time, Harry Gray, constructed the wall and sculpted the animals from the March to the following November.
Royal openings always encourage plenty of help from the main contractor and Mc.Alpine administered the site and facilitated the working infrastructure of the site very well.
The end of project like this does come with much relief. However, being imersed intesely with the blood, sweat and tears, trapped fingers, grazed skin, the problems and solutions of moving large stones around without damage, the cut and thrust and comradery within the personal dynamics of site workers and the practical and administrative aspects, does take some coming down from.
I tend to much prefer the journey than the final destination. It is a very exciting way to pass a working day. Pressure? Yes of course but if you have confidence in your abilities to handle the possible problems and bottlenecks and have forseen and prepared then pressure is merley a rocket fuel to get things done. If not then presure becomes a very heavy burden.
Yes of course you are proud, but its over! There is a tendency to, in the posesion of the knowledge of a sucesful outcome, to look a the whole process with rose tinted glasses and perhaps paper over some of the more ‘dificult’ moments of the task!
After the very long lead in period, the discusions about cost and tendering, method statements, health and safety plans then the sudden but long term intensity of the work, and the madness aroung the unveiling… you eventually return to the workshop.
It feels a little abondoned but it is tranquil, familiar, and the smaller pieces of work that have been on hold, can finally get done. A completely different scale of effort and stress. It is one hell of a come down but it presents vital opportnity to reflect and recharge. If you are wise, you do not allow one demanding project of such intesity to follow directly after another. We were wise!