I had a great assistant, Scott Watterworth, a young man, just 20, who was born with tools in his hands. He had extensive experience in working with ceramics. He even had his own studio and kiln. It seemed to make sense to propose a ceramic sculpture. Perhaps I associate hospitals with echoing tiled surfaces? At any rate, without any experience in the medium, I made my pitch. Here's the digital maquette that I submitted:
We got the job. Scott and I were quite excited. Both of us had dreamed of some recognition as artists, as guys that did big work visible against the skyline. It was easy to see this as a first step. I'll talk more about my efforts in this direction another day. This day was a day of action. There was a deadline.
After drawing up a full size outline, Scott and I headed for his parents' home, into the basement. Starting with a big sheet of rolled clay, we transferred the design onto the wet clay and cut out the tiles.
The vertical support was double 3/4" ply. We glued the tiles down, covering all the plywood. The last thing was the covering of the edges and the base. For some inconceivable reason, I chose to warp Honduras Mahogany strips over the curvy edges and cover the base in more mahogany, including heavily radiused corners. Sigh. This took endless hours. I didn't want any fasteners showing.
The work did get shipped. It looked great.
I wound up calling it "Ad Lux Borealis" (Toward a Northern Light), a sort of meditation on that rising sense, the leaving of earth. The hospital did a great sign in sand-blasted glass featuring the title and both our names.
I have played with ceramics in recent years, and would love to do more. Working in colour is a lovely change. And, somehow, I'd like to think that Scott lives on in that perfect relationship between clay and fire.