Swans of Wells, and the Wreck of the Valentine

Once again, my bloggage is all about 3D stuff rather than illustrations, but hey ho...

First up is the new sculpture trail in Wells, where there are currently about 60 giant Swans dotted around the city. The first of them that I was involved with is "Up Before The Beak," which was designed and painted by James Long. As he didn't have any experience with creating the fibreglass additions needed for the design, I was asked to add the judge's wig and half-moon spectacles .

Despite the fibreglass looking like stewed rhubarb when it goes on, you can build texture into it pretty well. The specs were made from aluminium tile trim cut and shaped down, with perspex lenses.

... and here he is in situ after James had painted him:

My own design for a Swan was partly inspired by my 2 son's fondness for all things scaly and terrifying, and partly because I couldn't really see a way to do a naturalistic conversion job on a swan without once again getting through a few buckets of fibreglass. Which I duly did, and The Swanster... Doyouthinkhesawus? emerged from the workshop after a couple of  weeks of intense work. I bought some Crocodile eyes from www.glasseyes.com, which I think set him off rather nicely.

The next project was a real adventure- I was asked by Amberly Valentine (Young Fashion Photographer of the Year 2010) to create a 30 foot long shipwreck for a photoshoot at Gunwalloe Cove, Cornwall. This is the original design that I was given to work from:

As I didn't have a huge amount of time to produce it, I had to employ an assistant for this task (whom I shall hereafter refer to as Able Seaman Dad...) to help with the rigging and internal construction of the masts, the largest of which was 25 feet tall. The masts were made from cardboard tubes from a carpet warehouse strengthened with wood, and the booms were made from cardboard tubes from a fabric shop.

The ribs and planking of the ship were made with flexible plywood, painted to look 3D. Able Seaman Dad and I hired a van to drive it all down to the coast in the lashing rain. The rain stopped as we pulled up into the car park, and held off for the next 2 hours while we put it up, starting with 3 fence posts piledrivered in to the sand to anchor the masts.

... and then the rain and mist rolled back in. Amberly was delighted, as it fitted the mood of the pictures perfectly, but the 4 models (who appeared to be wearing about 3 gauzy handkerchiefs and a tutu between them) didn't seem quite as thrilled with the inclement conditions. Able Seaman Dad proved invaluable by fixing the generator for the lights, re-wiring the underwater lights for the next day, and lending Amberly a powerful torch to 'feather' the model when the lights that her team had brought with them failed. When we finally wrapped, the wreck was so sodden from the rain that two of the booms had buckled, which again fitted the images well, and it only took about 2 minutes to pull the whole thing to pieces.

The final shots will be part of Amberly's "Arcadia" project, which will involve an exhibition in London and an accompanying book.

Here's the wreck just as we finished it, with a couple of Amberly's props crew in it for scale:

And here's my portfolio shot, with the hotel from the headland removed:

Well, that's all for now!



Frances Cony said...

Hi Tony

You've been busy!

Seen the swans. Admired the Judge, and especially liked the dinosaur swan Swanster's eyes. Its crest is a bit like that of the spitting dinosaur Dilophosaurus currently at Bristol Zoo.

Carole Cochrane said...

Yes, I saw these Swans at Wells. Thought the designs were amazing !!