This was a commission for King Edward Vi School Southampton. It has taken just over a year to complete and necessitated a great deal of research including several visits to the battle fields of the Somme. I wanted to depict the 'brave lads' from the school and their individual talents and aspirations that were soon to be lost in the dreadful 'war to end all wars'.
Hopefully the objects I included to depict the Royal Navy during WW1 were accurate to the time but some artistic licence was necessary.
This picture perhaps gives an idea of the scale of the project. As the sculpture is to be located in a memorial garden and mostly seen by the students from the school I decided to fill the lower section with facts and images to challenge their imagination and initiate research.
This is a detail from the lower half of the sculpture showing both the text and the 'clues' about some of the events that took place during WW1.
This is a closeup of the mine. The text had not been added at this stage but considerable research was necessary to find details of a sea mine from WW1
The 'brave lads' depicted were modelled from a variety of different young men from the school as I didn't want portraits as such. The Royal Flying Corps, Army and Royal Navy are the main feature with elements to show their individual interests and possible lives cut short at at such a young age. Their cap badges and other insignia were added latter as well some changes to their faces. I tried to make them look perhaps excited and unaware of what lay ahead.
Richard Atkinson-Willes and Emma Harding from the Talos Art Foundry Near Andover travelled down to the studio in France to begin a long weeks work making the rubber mould which they then took back with them to the foundry.
Richard is starting to add shims that will divide the sculpture in two. In the end it was decided to divide the sculpture in to five pieces so that both the rubber mould and the 'jesmonite' outer jacket could be removed without damaging the wax stage of the long casting process.
The first row of shims in place.
The front of the sculpture has been divided in to an upper and lower part and the first layer of liquid rubber applied to take an impression from the sculpture without loosing detail.
Emma is adding the outer case made from jesmonite to eventually hold the rubber layer in place.
Here the completed outer 'jacket can be seen with metal supports in place to stop it distorting when it is finally removed from the clay sculpture.
The outer jacket is being removed after which it will be bolted back together with the rubber inside giving a complete mould ready for the wax stage of the casting process.