The Sadako sculpture – the commission

So how did this wonderful commission come about? It is serendipity, a chance encounter at a London art fair. I meet this amazing woman with a vision of a community retreat and peace garden in Wales. She introduces me to the touching story of Sadako. With shared interests in international development and issues of peace, we just know we should work together towards this vision. Within a year, I find myself in Wales, spending an inspiring couple of days talking through the commission and spending time in the plot, where the landscaping is progressing. We part, enthused with our project to have a bronze sculpture of Sadako Sasaki at the centre of Hedd Wen, the peace garden. We have tousled with a number of key questions. How should we depict the story of Sadako? What response do we want from viewers? What age should Sadako be? What clothing should she wear? What size should she be? Where should she be positioned in the garden?

Our target is to unveil the sculpture and garden on the World Day of Peace, the 21st September 2012. This is in just under one year’s time. This perhaps sounds like a lot of time, but the modeling, casting and installing of a bronze sculpture is complex and time-consuming. My first task is to work on a third-size maquette, or model, of the proposed sculpture. A friend’s daughter kindly sits for me. I build a rather elaborate armature and use terracotta wax so that we can move the arms, legs and head around, to try out different poses. Another meeting, this time in London, allows us to finalise the pose and settle remaining questions.


Emily and Kaiser
Emily and Kaiser

My next step is to find a model to sit for the final Sadako sculpture. Good fortune strikes again, and I find the lovely model, Emily. We have many happy sittings in my studio in Billingshurst. I look back at those sittings with fondness. It has been a real privilege to spend time with Emily and her mum Aki, over the last year. In fact, we are back in the studio at the moment working on another portrait of Emily.

The next part of the story will be sharing some of the photos of sittings with Emily and the clay modeling process.


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