On the 15th August 2019 I received validation of my applicant profile from the Arts Council via the 'Grantium' application site. This meant that I was now in a position to log on, go to my submission and to take the next step - that being the answering of questions on the 'eligibility questionnaire'.
This would be a thorough interrogation of the project related to the use of more environmentally friendly materials and processes to be used in the making, casting, mould-making and manufacture of a proposed sculpture.
It began with me having to provide a short summary of my project, the total amount of funds I was asking for in support and a start and end date for the project. The summary of the project presented no difficulties as it was something that i had been considering for some time. For the project to proceed however it was essential to secure funding and with this in mind I decided to try to keep the budget as low as possible, in the hope that my application for grant aid would be successful. As this was my first experience of seeking support from The Arts Council and my first use of their 'Grantium' application process this also seemed sensible.
Within the application I was asked to address the following:
How strong my ideas is and how clearly I express my aims
To demonstrate that my project is likely to achieve my aims
To make clear how my project will achieve its ambition
To explain how the project will strongly develop the work/skills of people/organisations involved.
To ensure that the people I intend to work with have a track record of delivering good quality work and have quality experience
To involve quality arts organisations and artists within the context of the project.
To this end I first of all needed to detail the results of my investigation into the more environmentally friendly materials I have been experimenting with in the making of my work over the last 5 years. To comply with information required within the application submission I then had to source and make contact with specialists who were familiar with these materials as well as asking them to share their knowledge and experience in order to expand upon my own knowledge of materials and processes. I knew that some of these might be utilised within this project but wanted to gain as much information and experience for subsequent sculptural projects. By making new personal connections I was also keen to discover additional specialists though not necessarily being employed by those helping in this project, who might support my future work, such as those involved in the use of technologies such as 3D digital scanning and 5 and 6 axis CNC machining.
Given that wider engagement with the outcomes of the project would make my application more likely to be successful I also made contact with local artist groups in order that I might share my experience of the Arts Council grant application process as well as sharing my findings related to the materials and processes employed within the practical project itself. Given the recent interests shown by school aged students I also contacted several local schools, offering to make presentations related to environmental factors related to the making of sculpture.
The last part of my preparation for the project was to ensure wider public engagement and audience. This required me to make contact with local galleries and curators in order to ascertain where the sculpture might be exhibited. I made several submissions and received offers for exhibitions of the sculpture and other pieces. (Watch out for future blog posts related to these in the future).
On the 31st October I received an email from The Arts Council. It read, 'Please log on to the Arts Council portal to review your decision letter.' With some excitement and trepidationI logged on to the Grantium website to find that my application for funding had been successful and that I was being asked whether I wished to accept the offer. However there were additional confirmatory details, related to exhibitions and audience participation that were required too. Luckily I had continued my contacts with local galleries and artists groups so everything needed was in place so of course I accepted the offer immediately. The very next day,1st November 2019 I received another email informing me that my acceptance had been reviewed and I was asked to post a letter containing my bank details in order for the first payment of funding to be made.
I was thrilled that my very first attempt to secure Arts Council funding had been successful and to know that I could now make contact again with Revolutionary Coatings to let them know that I wished to use them in the replication of a sculpture that they had quoted for.
For the past five years I have explored a range of materials and processes for the making of my sculpture that are more environmentally friendly. Until this year I did not feel in a position to seek support for my practice but the initial outlay for processes that I wished to employ made it more and more difficult to move forward. Despite this I had undertaken a good deal of research into materials and processes and specialists with the skills and knowledge who I knew would be in a position to collaborate with me. These factors were, I am quite sure, essential to my submission for an Arts Council grant.
Firstly the time had allowed me to produce full size maquettes of sculptures and to decide upon those that I thought I would replicate. The decision, based in part upon the reaction to the work by others.
Having the work completed was important as it meant that I did not have to seek financial support for this stage of the process, as well as being able to make images of the works available to the Arts Council for their consideration.
Given that the main thrust of my application related to the use of environmental considerations in the moulding, casting and replication of a work suited to being sited in the environment rather than indoors, I was able to make my application much more focussed as a result. This was in large part due to being able to select two pieces of sculpture that could be used to gather quotations from specialists in the mould making and casting processes I wished to use. I purposely selected two pieces of work that would allow me to ascertain the difference in costs for their replication - one requiring a much more complex mould that the other.
The difference between the two quotations for the mould making was £1000 and was the bulk of the cost. (This was actually good news because I knew that in future the mould making process was something that I could undertake myself. The replication of the sculpture using polyurea, a material whose processes I would be not be able to undertake myself due to its costs being prohibitive, made the subsequent casts that might be pulled from the mould affordable to prospective purchasers. This allowed me to make clear in my submission to the Arts Council that should my application be successful, a grant award had the potential to make my work self financing as well as more environmentally friendly.
So it was, that having my application for a grant accepted, I was able to deliver my full size maquette to Revolutionary Coating on Wednesday 13th November where I was able to discuss the moulding and possibilities for the cast utilising polyurea with the addition of bronze powder or sprayed 'Liquid Metal'. I had been liaising with Jack Waite at Revolutionary Coatings throughout the period of the Arts Council application process. This included the initial quotation for the mould making and details related to the replication and casting of the sculpture However due to his late night session in his workshop it was Seamus who greeted me when I arrived. Seamus was able to show me some samples of polyurea positives pulled from silicone rubber moulds, pliable and hard polyurea samples and some of the finishes in liquid metal. I decided at this point that I would need to make decisions for the final piece once the mould was complete.
On the 18th December I received an email from Jack informing me that the silicone rubber mould was completed and would soon be with them. It was decided that discussion related to the cast of the sculpture would take place after the Christmas period.
Fibreglass Resin Cast with Bronze coating . Polyurea Cast with bronze
I returned to Revolutionary on January 9th to take a look at the mould and to collect a resin and glass fibre cast that the mould maker had pulled from the mould. I also discussed with Jack the use of bronze powder filler with polyurea for the cast he was to produce. Jack had not used bronze powders before, only aluminium, and Jack was keen to see the results and so offered to do the work at a discounted price. Given that I was also going to use the piece to discuss the potential of polyurea with local artists we agreed to make the pull using one half with bronze powder and the other without so that a comparison could be made. I hope that the artists i present the work to find it useful.
Due to pressure of work the final pull from the mould was not completed until early March. I collected it from Revolutionary Coatings on Wednesday 11th March in time for me to make the final patinations prior to my exhibition.
The finished polyurea and bronze cast was due to be presented in my exhibition at Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery opening on April 1st but the Corona virus Covid19 caused the exhibition to be postponed. I intend to pull other sculptures from the mould in a variety of materials which will be for sale in forthcoming exhibitions and on my website.