Life of a Spire

by achillesegard

Canterbury Cathedral model_1

Around 20 kilos of laser cut pieces of shinkolite. Took three trips from the car to the sun room. After staring at these shapes for days on a computer screen, I could finally feel them. This brief moment of relief, like any under a designer’s rush, left its place to the urgency of what had yet to be done. Train myself how to swiftly  slot each part of the model in a specific order, rehearsing over and over the solving of this metre long puzzle. The kind of obsession somewhere between building a house of cards and assembling a gun.
Eventually, the day we had to perform live came. It needed to be done in time for the opening of the Hands Up charity event, the guys who gave me the job in the first place.  One hour tops. That morning,  in the buzz of the pre-opening, the slotting began. Training barely  made up for the sleepy hands, and the cathedral rose where it was designed to rise.

The model then took me to another gig at the airport. Same tricks, different crowd. It had to hold strong the whole month. Ended up being too long a performance. When I came to pick it up, parts were broken, if not missing. I blamed my bad design, I blamed the public’s malice. I just couldn’t put up with the fact that it was growing old.

Last time i saw it was at Te Papa. Got donated for conservation. A grand finale of sorts. There I was, for the last time, arranging the familiar pieces, for a public of solemn animals, whether stuffed or woodcarved. I never saw it after that day.

A design’s life is always like that after all. It collects unexpected encounters until it can’t anymore. This model did collect quite a few of them. It belonged to a cause, it belonged to a place, it belongs now to an idea. This one never really belonged to its maker, or maybe for an instant, in the sun room.

See the exact same pictures at the Te Papa online catalogue: