the grey, grey horse

For three months now my brother, Daniel Blom MRBS ( Member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors) and I Stefan Blom, have been working on our first collaborative work called ‘the grey, grey horse’, a mechanical horse sculpted in a combination of steel and bone. It will be part of an exhibition of my brother’s called ‘the body’s split’, running from the 28 Jan -23 February 2016 at the Commune.1 Gallery in Cape Town. Hereby its concept.

‘the grey, grey horse’ shall form the kinematic effigy of a horse. Its substantial structural armaments which shall elevate and hold the horse’s skull by bolstering and propping up its central shape and raising it, shall also form a type construction situate in the otherwise pristine exhibition space by which the visual and cerebral experience of the equine statue will start with an appropriation, a suggestion for departure accompanied by the skull enhanced by virtual movement, while opening up a multitude of alternatives to the obvious narratives of static order and mortality.

‘the grey, grey horse’ shall be an erected monument, a manifestation of an homage to the horse and la grande morte, but with a mechanical invention conceived with associate trappings, it shall be augmented with a fictional functionality.

 

My heart is not here. I am there, and there. My heart is not here. I shall have a grey horse; I shall run away on that horse.

Early morning, Stefan Blom's art studio
Early morning, Stefan Blom’s art studio

The form, tilt and sweep of the body was fashioned accordingly to the narrow fringe between two wide spheres drawn nearly touching. Then forged from two mild steel bars joint one on top of the other by twenty, weigh distributive, stacked mild steel rectangles, while a further two merely connect the narrow tapering bars, becoming in essence four fronts (two on either side) completing the twenty-two, welded joinery and weightage system. Closer towards the counter leveled skull, these in addition to the bars being themselves progressively hollowed, allow for the considerable reduction of weight.

 

Daniel Blom
Daniel Blom
Skull and rough cut steel body
Skull and rough cut steel body

 

The form, tilt and sweep of the body was fashioned accordingly to the narrow fringe between two wide spheres drawn nearly touching. Then forged from two mild steel bars joint one on top of the other by twenty, weigh distributive, stacked mild steel rectangles, while a further two merely connect the narrow tapering bars, becoming in essence four fronts (two on either side) completing the twenty-two, welded joinery and weightage system. Closer towards the counter leveled skull, these in addition to the bars being themselves progressively hollowed, allow for the considerable reduction of weight.

 

Body template
Body template

 

Stefan Blom grinding the steel body
Stefan Blom grinding the steel body
Steel body in the bench vise
Steel body in the bench vise
Daniel welding the stacked steel – counter weights
Daniel welding the stacked steel – counter weights

 

Splinting the body open
Splinting the body open
The counter steel weights getting welded in place
The counter steel weights getting welded in place
Stefan Blom shaping the body
Stefan Blom shaping the body

The cable-feed, two expansion spring and one tension spring system, consisting of three parts of whom two are moving, sliding effortlessly from side to side, allowing through cable displacement the skull to turn left and right, linking the cables to the cable controls lying loose on the floor. The spring system has the character of three 7,5 cm. wide vertebrae, emerging in perfect proportion from underneath the skull.

 

Spring system, ball and head support
Spring system, ball and head support

The first holds a steel ball with an internal tension spring and external cable-feed disk joined to its underside, avoiding the cable to bend when allowing the skull to curve downward. The medium-sized mild steel ball, though stark, mechanical and severe, forms a striking extension of the occipital crest and temporal bone of the skull. Handmade and full extended the body of the horse spans 127 cm. It weighs 13 kg. It is 30 cm high and 20 cm wide. It is possible to hold it in the arms where it would lay comfortable, elegant and surprisingly light. However, accidentally dropped, it formidably and horrendously whirls and spins, in its entirety uncontrollably.

Fitting the skull onto the support
Fitting the skull onto the support
Body, mechanism and head support
Body, mechanism and head support

Each of the mild steel, handmade, three cable controls consist of four elements; a cable, a cable grip (connectors), bolt, and hand grip forming essentially an extension of the body. By squeezing the handles tight, the head opens, separating the cable grips from one another. Hereby the cable-lead through the tension and expansion spring systems are activated, displacing the cable and moving the horse’s head.

Template and rough cut steel mechanism
Template and rough cut steel mechanism
Checking the spring distances
Checking the spring distances
The mechanism welded to the body
The mechanism welded to the body
The mechanism welded to the body
The mechanism welded to the body, front view
Fitting the skull onto the support
Fitting the skull onto the support
Hand controls
Hand controls
Hand controls complete
Hand controls complete

Although there was no need for maceration, largely because of its already weathered state, the left side of the found skull, however was severely damaged, exposing the large internal cavity by the parietal and temporal bone made eminently more so by the complete absence of both the coronoid process of the mandible, and the orbit defining the left eye socket. A large part of the protective upper frontal bone extending towards the intact incisive was missing as well, as were all but three of the teeth in its upper jaw.

Damaged skull
Damaged skull

While retaining the important authenticity of the skull, its restoration and subsequent fuse with the steel body, an underlying fibreglass support structure and armature as base was constructed for the initially wet resin compound following. Eventually thickened and hardened it would be the main sculpting medium.

Skull and roughly formed fibreglass and resin compound armature
Skull and roughly formed fibreglass and resin compound armature

Restored skull

Restored skull detail
Restoration detail

Additionally to this, teeth were constructed and inserted into empty cavities, replacing those lost. They were then meticulously destructed to match the damaged, worn down appearance of the existing ones.

Inserting the new molars
Inserting the new molars
Adding the upper front teeth
Adding the upper front teeth
Progress chec
Progress chec

Through an intensive process of elimination and subtraction, the rest of the restoration section was then carefully completed. Scrape and scratch marks made by tools and utensils were left as reminders where the hands and fingers alongside explored, marvelled and felt deep into the original chambers henceforth concealed passages and vents eventually pierced the thin, brittle bone exterior.

The repaired skull will be covered with a 2K spray paint, protecting, colour match, and enhancing it.

Stefan Blom
Stefan Blom
Daniel working on the maquette
Daniel working on the maquette
Completed mechanism
Completed mechanism

 

The  base will stabilize and give a sense of elevation, slightly raising the body and head of the grey, grey horse. The custom-made steel base will enable the figure to fluctuate freely.

Complete

'the grey, grey horse' complete
‘the grey, grey horse’ complete

the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse
the grey, grey horse

 

Completion date, 27 Desember 2016

My heart is not here. I am there, and there. My heart is not here. I have a grey horse; I shall run away on that horse.

 

 

 

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