Building Our Emmeline’s armature

Snowy studio - photo by Hazel ReevesIt’s early February. The snow is on the ground. The funding gap for The Emmeline Pankhurst statue is bridged by the Government’s Centenary Fund (Centenary Cities). Time for celebration and the signing of my contract to sculpt the full-size Emmeline. But with an earlier unveiling date of 14 December 2018, there’s no time to waste.

FirsMark Longworth working on the Pankhurst armature - photo by Hazel Reevest stage in the commission is to build the metal armature that will support the half a tonne of clay. In real life we think Emmeline was around 5 feet tall. Her statue will be around 25 percent larger than life, so around 6ft 3in, and over 8ft including the chair

I call on Mark Longworth, a fellow sculptor, who plans-out a robust armature structure. He joins me in the freezing studio. We work together. Initially I focus on the scaling-up from the maquette to the full-size Emmeline, providing Mark with the measurements. He focuses on the build, cutting the scaffolding (Kee Klamp) to size. The ‘back iron’ goes together quickly – this will take the main weight of the clay.

It’s not enough to build a metal human-shape, the armature has to replicate Emmeline’s pose, with one arm outstretched, one heel lifted, and her head turned and tilted. For the first time, I bring in Sarah Jenkins, who will be our model for Emmeline across the many months in the studio. We also need to build the armature for Emmeline’s chair. To help, I bring in my own wooden kitchen chair to act as model.



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