Veolia – Ongoing Project VII

The storybook was put together with the finished text and the completed illustrations. We sent it for approval to the client and feedback was given shortly after. They got back to us in the late afternoon with a list of various points to change by noon the next day. Some requests were too enterprising to complete for the next day, some absurd, while others were insulting.
Although I wasn’t directly dealing with the client and their requests, this is arguably the part where I learnt the most. Firstly, working with a client doesn’t particularly interest me. Secondly, it involves a lot of negotiations and concessions, along with a healthy dose of patience and self-control.
We made concessions on some points and refused others. We finalised the storybook, and I switched to the build team charged with building the sculpture.
The latter is a life-size bear standing on a plinth with its head bent towards a gift in which figures the tap device to donate. The bear is composed of a metal structure, chicken wire, cut milk bottles attached with cables ties and LED lights.

When I joined, we had recently received the metal structure. We had to apply the chicken wire before starting on the fur.

While Natalie was applying chicken wire to one side of the bear, I sacrificed my fingers and took care of the other. Sometime in the previous week, we had started cutting milk bottles into small rectangular pieces in preparation for this stage. Despite that, we needed more, so I went back to cutting bottles. A tedious process made worse with the stench of moulded milk. That same day we started attaching a few pieces to the chicken wire using cable ties.

It took us two weeks to cover the bear in plastic fur. From morning to late afternoon, we worked on it, covering it slowly but thoroughly. The repetition was soothing at times and maddening at others, and ultimately left us exhausted and wishing for it to be over. The fact that people supposed to work on it regularly didn’t show up made the entire thing even more frustrating.

Natalie and Ellice had already threaded the lights through the structure. They turned out to be quite problematic as we could never get the same colour each time we turned them on. We covered them while making sure that we left openings to reach them should we need to.

We spent the last two days finishing the bear, painting the plinth and putting the gift together. However, as it hosts electronic components necessary to the installation, great care was put into making sure that it was insulated. We had a short amount of time to fill the remaining blanks in the fur before Veolia came to collect it. I would’ve been relieved when it left our workshop if we didn’t have to install it in Mount Street Gardens two days later.

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