Brett Murray's "The Citizen" PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 11:27

Another recent project this year was Cape Town-based artist Brett Murray's bronze sculpture "The Citizen". Commissioned by Spier Arts Academy, "The Citizen" evolved as an idea based on a previous series of works by Brett Murray called "Bubble Head" and it speaks about the power of the individual within a collective. One body, many heads, one South Africa. Ubuntu.

There were a number of challenges regarding this 3 ton, 7.5m tall figure that we needed to overcome as a group. In collaboration with the artist, the structural engineer, Karl Hvidsten of Tank Industries, Bronze Age and our fabrication department, these challenges were successfully overcome. Karl Hvidsten’s structural engineering of the piece was once again of major importance and allowed us to set about fabricating the metal framework to accommodate the moulded bronze pieces and build The Citizen.

Each "head", made up of 8 panels were individually affixed and welded together. The body was delivered in sections by Bronze Age and was assembled in a way that ensured the structural integrity was maintained and the substantial weight of the piece was properly supported. The entire sculpture was sanded and finished to hide any welding seams of the panels. A challenging and time consuming process, however, achieving the desired outcome resulting in a magnificent work of art.

With a structure of this magnitude, taking weight and height into consideration, great lengths were taken to ensure that the support structure was firmly rooted to the foundation, thereby making the statue accessible to the public, who can connect with its materiality and experience the scale of the piece from close proximity. As with many free standing structures, weather needed to be taken into consideration and in this instance wind was a particular concern. Many hours of research and calculations were performed, taking into account the strongest winds that Johannesburg has experienced over the last 50 years, to ensure the structure would support the sculpture under the toughest meteorological conditions.

Although working with bronze can be challenging as it is a malleable and organic material, we were successful in securely adhering the bronze moulds provided by Bronze Age to the frame, ready for Brett and his team to commence the patination process to achieve the brown film on the surface of old bronze. This process involved treating the bronze with chemicals and applying heat to the surface to achieve a distinctive surface appearance usually acquired over time.

The transport and assembly of The Citizen was a massive undertaking. With meticulous preparation, efficient teams and precise systems in place, the assembly was executed according to plan. The Citizen stands tall and proud outside the newly constructed offices of Auto and General in Steyn City, Gauteng. We are very proud to be associated with an artist of the calibre of Brett Murray and look forward to further opportunities to assist in bringing creativity to fruition in the future.

To watch the installation process, see BRETT MURRAY_ CITIZEN from HEYLUKE on Vimeo.

Vertical Aerial, Johannesburg PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 October 2013 15:21

At Grandi Manufacturing we get involved in some very exciting projects. Often it’s our metalwork that provides the basis for ambitious design concepts to become reality.

We were recently involved in creating the structure for a gravity defying art piece on behalf of Spier Architectural Arts and artist Gerhard Marx. His contemporary style freestanding mosaic artwork appeared at the FNB Joburg Art Fair in September 2013. In collaboration with structural engineer, Karl Hvidsten from Tank Industries, we manufactured a rectangular steel structure at a compound angle for this piece to rest on.

This freestanding sculpture is composed of 56 mosaic panels mounted onto a steel frame, displaying the artist's depiction of a continuous aerial view of Johannesburg's historical city centre. The installation is about 3m high and 5m wide and weighs 3 tons.

Assembly of Vertical Aerial, Johannesburg by Grandi Manufacturing

This project posed a number of unique challenges, but through bringing together the experience of the many skilled and talented people involved in the project, all of these were successfully overcome.

"An aerial view is both a photograph and a map," explains Marx. “As a photograph it functions in a sort of scientific objectified manner. It is literally an 'overview'. As a map, the aerial view interests me because of the manner in which one 'reads' a map – particularly a map without text, which is what the aerial view arguably is."

Each mosaic panel measures 800 x 800mm, suggestive of a grid reference found on maps. The artwork was fabricated in the indirect method in Spier Architectural Arts's Cape Town studio: seven professional mosaic artists from Italy and South Africa, together with nine apprentices, applied the tesserae facedown to a backing paper before they were transferred. Mosaic panels are placed on both sides of the artwork, reading as a continuous built surface.

Finished Vertical Aerial, Johannesburg assembled by Grandi Manufacturing

The project took 5 months to complete. The individual tesserae include natural stone such as marble and travertine, fragments of red brick, ceramic elements and chippings of Venetian smalti glass.

Vertical Aerial was an extremely challenging project, requiring high levels of skill, precision and creativity. We are extremely proud of our role in achieving a successful outcome.

Grandi News PDF Print E-mail

We would like to welcome you to our News section where we will be documenting some of the wonderful projects that we work on, as well as providing details on services that we provide to our clients.

Grandi Previous work

We are very proud of our workmanship. We derive great pleasure from completing a project and keeping our clients satisfied, but to date, havent always shared this. This is where we will highlight past projects, show work in progress, and give some insight into the Grandi Manufacturing family that has been providing Grandi Quality for more than 50 years.