The Visionary in the Making:
The Visionary has become a central meeting point for staff, students and visitors as it sits atop the main walkway to the Patterson Oval.
The process for developing this sculpture had its fair share of experimentation and challenge. The first task was to get the pose of the figure correct. To achieve this a 3D model was developed and a lot of anatomical drawings and photographs were studied until Damian felt he had the base gesture right. From that point, he ran the 3D model through various programs and processes in order to simplify it to a point where it was abstracted, but without making it so jagged that it lost the impression of natural curvature. In conjunction with this process, he was keenly aware that the sculpture would need an internal structure, so as he refined and tweaked the figure into its final shape, he had to ensure that an appropriately solid frame could fit inside the form. After a great number of amendments he finally massaged the form into its final arrangement.
Once this was completed, Damian finalised the design of the frame and submitted his plans to an engineer to design the footing. This was however, where the tricky work began. At this point he had to look at each segment and work out how it would be put together; working out where each segment would intersect with the frame, which faces could be cut from a single sheet and folded into position, which ones would need to be welded, how each segment would be attached to the frame and in what order etc. These considerations were made as he 'unfolded' the 3D model, labelling each face with a code and annotating the angles between them for folding and assembly. In order to fold the parts himself, Damian had perforations cut along the fold lines of the larger segments and then made a small pan brake to fold them. For smaller folds (less than 600mm) he used a pneumatic shop press and some tooling (essentially a large hydraulic ram that pushes a 'v' shaped bar down onto the workpiece that had a matching 'v' shaped groove underneath it). So armed with his notes and a digital protractor, Damian began folding all the segments into their destined arrangements whilst his assistant took the plans for the frame and began welding it together.
The highest point in Damian's studio is just over 4m high, so building a 5 m tall sculpture was always going to be tricky! He decided to build as much of the frame as he could and stood it upright, welding it to a heavy (12mm thick) base plate. He then began at the feet and worked his way up, wrapping the parts of each segment around the frame, checking its position with the 3D model, then welding and sanding it before moving onto the next part. It took around 10 days for Damian's team to reach the chest...and the roof! With great care, a block and tackle and some ratchet straps, they tilted the figure (which weighed around 700kg at this stage) and gently lowered it to the ground, allowing them to complete the arms, shoulders and head. After inspecting the work and making some final touch ups, it was time for installation.
The Visionary in Transit and Being Installed:
On Thursday 13 October The Visionary made the trip from Damian's studio to Yarra to find its final resting place. At approximately 5 metres tall this was no easy task! As the work was now close to a tonne in weight and was welded together into a single object, a crane truck was needed to transport it. Once at the School it was carefully positioned on the plinth with holes in the base plate aligning perfectly with steel anchors that had been Chemset into the concrete days earlier. The nuts were tightened up to lock it into position and then were welded closed so that it could not move over time.
To achieve a natural and desirable rust finish, the work was simply wiped down with a solvent and left for nature to take its course.