When presenting my ideas for work to be shown at the end of term show, my tutor asked me what my stake in these panels was ?
This was the first sighting of the Hammersmith Bridge road panels - they were being replaced in August 2011 as they were near the end of their 25 year life - this is one of some 900 panels on the bridge and has survived 25 years of constant heavy traffic, two real IRA bombs and the onset of rust.
I ended up returning a number of times to negotiate the acquisition of four of the panels - I met a really helpful London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham project engineering manager who smoothed the way for me to pick them up - after a donation to the Mayor's favourite charity, Braveheart.
The next step, in late September, was to hire a van to pick up the panels and convince one of my sons that it would be an life adventure he'd never forget ...
The panels are stored in the locked room under the north side of the bridge - it also contains many old traffic signs and the bales of straw, that are hung from the bridge when work is being carried out, as a warning to sailing ships on the Thames. The atmosphere in the room was quite unique, with the constant thunder of traffic from above, light pouring in through gaps in the structure and the smell of old straw bales and sand bags.
Before we could move them we needed to record in detail the 50 or so bolt holes on each panel - they are effectively unique templates for each panel's position on the bridge - to make it more complicated the holes came in two sizes - after a few false starts we worked out a way of recording the postions of each hole.
The loading of the panels was a much tougher job than we had at first thought.
After storing the panels at home for a while I hired another van and son to take them into college in November.
Before I could cut them in the metal workshop, I had to manually remove the rubber compound on each panel - this was a bit of a revelation as they came off as one piece and were a mirror image of the red oxide paint and rust patches on the steel panel.
Then it was into the workshop to be kitted up for working with the plasma cutter ...
First panel hung drawn and quartered.
Then experimenting with presentation in my studio.
Tried putting them on different length stilts and wheels and adding a JR's inside-out project poster of me, me, me ...
see http://www.insideoutproject.net/ for more details.
and also http://jr-art.net/
Found a use for some old skateboard wheels and snooker balls
The group curation at the end of term show resulted in a three piece work.
So what was my stake in these panels ?
Three months of hard negotiation, prodding, recording, documenting, moving, removing, storing, stripping, cutting, reassembling, rolling, wrapping, rearranging and presenting.