I have only one image of this sculpture as it pretty much tells the full story of the piece. It was only to be viewed from one point so any other images would be pointless. But just to bulk out the visuals of this post I will do some zoom-ins.
I was happy to get invited to this project in Weymouth, England. It had been going for a few years and was a nice start to the sand season of 2013 or it least it would have been if I didn't have to spend most of the project helping the police bring some criminals to justice.
Let me explain in 2000 words or less.
I had only just arrived and checked into my room in the guest house when all the shit kicked off. I decided to walk to a close-by shop to buy some toothpaste, shower gel and wine. On my way back I had just called my new wife Clodagh and was chatting away letting her know that I had arrived safe and sound and how nice Weymouth appeared. Suddenly I man walked by me and turned back straight into my face wielding a knife. He pushed me back down on some steps and hovered over me pressing the knife to my throat. He took my phone and told me if I tried anything he would kill me. The blade was brought up to my cheek, just below my eye and he told me to give him my wallet. My shock turned to fear pretty quickly then as quickly again turned to anger. Who does this fecker think he is. There was a moment when he was shifting his position that I almost grabbed his hand and pushed the knife back towards him but I was so glad I didn't as another guy entered to frame holding another knife to my face.
I resigned myself to stay calm and do as they said. 'Give me your wallet' he ordered again pushing the knife just hard enough so as to not cut the skin of my cheek but to emphasise his point. I had to tell him that I had to move as it was in my back pocket and I was sitting on it. He told me if I tried anything I would be cut. His accomplice stood watch as I reached for and gave them my wallet. All the time this was going on Clodagh was still on the open line of my phone hearing all that was going on. She began shouting at them to leave me alone, screaming down the phone all the abuse she could muster and I was thinking 'You're not helping'.
Dumb and Dumber
The guys were obviously drunk as they luckily didn't hear Clodagh and they stank to high heavens of malt and cigarettes. After looking in my wallet for money he asked for the pin number to my bank card. Without hesitation, I gave them the number, albeit the wrong one '1 4 3 9'. '1 4 3 8' they repeated 'No no, 1 4 3 9' I corrected the halfwits. As the lookout continued to recite the number the main guy presses a little harder with the knife and said ' Now this is what is going to happen. We are going to leave and I want you to stay here for ten minutes without moving, If you don't, we will come back and stab you.' With that, he got up and they walked away. No goodbye nor nothin', so rude. I could still hear Clodagh on the other side of the phone shouting at them as they walked away with everything, they also took my damn shopping bag.
I lay there for a moment, anger and vengeance building. I hopped up and saw them walking up the street and I began to follow, jumping from shadow to shadow like a Ninja, I stayed out of their view. I waved down a taxi and asked him to call the police. I think he did as I asked but I wanted to keep following the scum bags. I followed them a fair distance hoping that the fuzz would soon arrive. Then they came to a dark alley and walked down. I came to the junction and could not see them in the dark. I'm crazy but not that crazy that I would follow them blindly. I ran to a chipper across the road and ask could they also ring the police and give my last sighting.
Then I waited for the police to arrive. Within minutes squad cars came from every direction and I was picked up. My first concern was to get in contact with Clodagh and tell her I was alright. I didn't know her number offhand, This is the way when you have a mobile phone that remembers those this for you, I told the police that I could get it from a website and they assured me they could help me back at the station.
In about twenty minutes I was back at the cop shop. Everyone knew who I was, Clodagh had already been in contact which quite surprised me. Many people were looking for me, my sculptor friends, the police and many strangers. It turns out the real hero in all this story was my amazing wife. She had the phone to her ear listening to the two numbs skulls all the way up the road. She actually thought I was still with them and they were marching me to a cash machine. She knew the number I had given them was false and was going through her own frantic mission trying to rally the troops through her laptop and house phone. She had rung the Irish police but they were no help. She had to get friends in England to get her in contact with the police in Dorset. She had also asked, through The Facebook, my sculptor friends that were in the guest house to raise the alarm and search for me. All this had happened before I had reached the station.
On the phone, she could hear them still recite my bank number and go into a shop with sliding doors and up to a bank machine where they entered my card and my number. The last thing she heard was them saying 'It's the wrong number, give me that thing' and then the phone went dead. She thought I was a goner.
At the station, I soon heard that the guys were picked up in a bar around the corner from the shop I had just, not half an hour ago bought my toothpaste. It was just at the other end of that alley I lost them at. They had just ordered two beers with the cash I had in my wallet and the place was surrounded.
It turned out the police were already on the hunt for them. They had mugged other people that evening, an old couple and a young girl which they had cut. The whole station was out in force. Clodagh and I had led them straight to the culprits and all was at peace again in sleepy Weymouth.
I must admit I was impressed by the police and how they treated everything. They told me they had informed Clodagh I was ok and that she had told them everything including the names and accents of the undynamic duo. They took evidence from me and asked did I need to talk with victim services. I was fine, just angry if not elated that they had been caught with our help but they said that if I felt any PTSD in days to come to let them know. They told me that they would have some questions but for now, I could go home and rest.
When the police dropped me back to the guest house all my sand sculptor buddies were up to see how I was and Mark presented me with a bottle of whiskey before sending me to bed. I was fine but worried that the PTSD the police had mentioned would hit me when the adrenaline left my body. I took this photo that night of the light in my room. Something stood out about it but I slept like a baby. I don't mean waking up screaming several times because I wet the bed, I mean very restfully.
Back to my day job
The next day I began my sand sculpture in earnest, I had been told in the planning before the event that I would be making a sculpture outside the tent based on Superman. While all the other sculptors were in relative warmth I would be out in the elements, battling against wind, snow and rain to make this thing. I was OK with that, I was just happy I was invited, It had to be one-sided and viewable out the window from the restaurant area, The sand was nice but working in the cold, not so much.
For the sculpture itself, I went for near 2.5D effect. One, because I wasn't sure of the strength of the sand and two, because I wanted it to work more like a comic strip cell than a sculpture, hence the exaggerated perspective and strange point of view.
The mugging, although over, still played a big part in the project for me. The afternoon of the first day Mark took me to retrace the steps of my assailants. The police had not found my wallet or phone and I would have liked them back. Walking down the alley where I had let them disappear I found some of my cards scattered, like my divers and driving licence and many other bits and pieces which they had discarded. We went to the bar they were surrounded in and talked to the owner. He seemed still a bit shaken up by what had happened the previous night when the place was stormed by the police who even had a K9 unit with them.
We asked was anything found after they left and to my surprise, he said they had found my phone. My wallet was never found but a couple of months later I got some money back which was in my wallet.
Above and beyond
I continued my sculpture as best I could but it seemed that most days I had to go to the station to give my account of what happened and even do an identity parade. (Sadly it was on a computer screen and not a lineup like in the movies,
I believed the case was pretty open and shut and when asked would I come back to be a witness at the trail I declined as I didn't know where I would be workwise at that time and being self-employed could not give up work to fly to England. Instead, I gave them all the help I could while I was still there and so did Clodagh. I think we did our duty and the two went to prison for a few years.
To make a long story even longer
To those still with me thanks for reading this far. I know this post doesn't have much to do with the sculpture itself but I thought the story that was going on while it was being made was more interesting to tell than for me to sit here and tell you how I did it.
One part I will share is about the speech bubble. I wanted to add something to make it obvious that this was inspired by the artwork of the Superman comic. With its crazy perspective and graphic style, I just couldn't think what to write. I believe it was a suggestion from the Canadian Carver Karen Fralich to write this line and I thought it was quite funny so went for it. It pretty much summed up the madness of the whole project.
Thanks again for getting this far and please drop me a comment if you did. I like to know if people are reading my ramblings.