A tale of anguish – not only on Niobe’s part, but mine as well. My very first major concrete artwork didn’t quite unfurl as planned. But what experimental artwork ever does?
I’ll start with Niobe’s. In greek mythology Niobe was an extremely fertile woman. She had 12 children – a source of great pride. Unfortunately, she she boasted of her prowess to the wrong goddess – Leto. As punishment for her vanity, Leto’s children, Apollo and Artemis slaughtered all of Niobe’s offspring. The distraught Niobe was inconsolable and her weeping was endless. In a rare moment of compassion Zeus turned her to stone in the hope that her heart would harden and the sorrow cease. Alas, the tears continued and so Niobe’s Anguish was perpetual.
So how does my anguish fit into this legend? Niobe was my first attempt at a major artwork using all the concrete techniques I had learnt to date. It was, what I like to call a ‘massive learning curve’. This was one of my more substantial windmills, fraught with miscalculation and disaster. But, as I like to say, no artwork comes without a little blood, sweat and tears. I experimented and I discovered, and now I am happy to say my systems are far more refined as a result. There were tears – a lot of tears. Let’s leave it at that!
The mirror and aluminium shapes were cut out and used to create a mould. Concrete was laid over the cutout shapes. Once set, the shapes were removed, and some sections were filled in with different coloured concrete mixes. The whole panel was then ground back and polished. The aluminium shapes were acid etched and polished separately. The aluminium was attached to the concrete. Resin was used to fill in the remaining sections and enamel brushwork applied over the top.
Nylon fibre reinforced concrete, epoxy resin, aluminium, mother of pearl and gold leaf were all incorporated in this piece.