I have been living like a hermit for over 12 months, hammering away in solitude to create this nail sculpture in time for Hockney’s 80th birthday. Located on a wall in a thriving culturally significant area of Bradford called Little Germany. It has taken over 250 kilos of stainless steel nails, which I have carefully spray-painted with industrial paints in the primary colours and black.
I first created a pointillism painting using sharpie pens, this took two weeks. Afterwards, I realised that I could move on to using nails. Unfortunately, after hitting them into the board, I took the paint off the heads, so this had to be repainted by hand after nailing into the panel.
The portrait of Bradford most famous son David Hockney consists of 12 individual panels each captures part of his face and clothing, highlighting his current dress style and his features. I wanted to use each panel rather like Hockney would use his Polaroid’s, capturing a person without the photos marrying up. So as to pay homage to Hockney’s style but retain my own interpretation of his work and naturally using my technique with nails.
Of the 12 panels, it has taken me between 3 & 7 weeks to finish each individual sculpture. It’s been a punishing schedule, physically and mentally. Mentally it has been hard to keep up the energy and drive required to finish each panel before the first of the month. Motivating myself each day most weekends and often late into the evening with the occasional necessary day off.
Physically, I have suffered from white finger, repetitive stress injury and the long periods of standing have left my knees and feet somewhat worse for wear. It often helped to set me small goals every day. I would outline that tie, I would fill in that part of the nostril, and so on, setting myself small goals every day really helped.
I usually feel a little euphoric when I finish a sculpture, and still do after hammering that last nail, but it was very quickly lost when I lifted that next panel onto my easel and realised I had to start again.
About now you’re asking yourself why? I can only say that this was my Eiger, my K2, and my Everest! You’ve got to push yourself in whatever your endeavours. I doubt I will ever have the opportunity to do anything like this again. So naturally I was going to say yes. I have not regretted the decision but it has been a very tough 14 months.
I must thank Dave West from Little Germany Action who commissioned this and with amazing determination ensured the success of the project, it takes the coming together of two good men, an artist determined to meet the project deadlines and a man like Dave West to convince all the parties involved it can be done. I also like to thank all the sponsors and all the people in the background who helped see this through.
Panel no. 5
Close up of the colours
The finished sculpture, David Hockney in nails
Close up of David’s glasses
Panel no. 7
At night with LED street spotlighting
You can see how it was made below: