Dorich House and its grounds are quite striking on any day. But blanketed in snow, they look quite magical. And the light today is quite lovely. The snow is falling and settling, transforming the light in the studio. This is our last day in Dora Gordine’s Plaster Room. It feels like home – I will be sad to leave.
The pressure is on. I only have a few hours with Mercy today, our last day. I must complete this third portrait. There is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind though. The music needs to be upbeat, to assist the sense of urgency. We find an internet-based Reggaeton radio channel – perfect. Mercy is being turned this way and that, is raised and lowered, as I work rapidly across the head. If only I had just one more day.
By lunchtime it is clear that I have even less time. We need to finish early as the snow is becoming rather heavy. The 4.30pm deadline becomes a 3pm deadline. Deep breath. Keep calm.
On go the shoulders and clavicles. I use a long screwdriver, wedged through the armature, to steer the head around into the final pose. The final hour is spent working on the muscles of the neck, trying to get the clear definition that Mercy has.
A head pops around the door to give us our 20 minute warning. This means we have to pack up all the sculpting paraphernalia and get it, along with the three portraits, into the snow-covered car within 20 minutes. I must put down my sculpture tools.
With very welcome help from Mercy, Josie and Machin, the car is loaded and the door is locked by 3.30pm. Phew. Now all I have to do is drive home to Brighton through the snow.