The really crazy time of year has started - spent the weekend beginning this years bonfire sculpture for East Hoathly's annual Carnival.
We've had a great start to this years fire, I'm sure we'll have our problems to work through over the next few weeks - but really it couldn't have started better. I have some amazing friends helping me this year - the usual talented crew on the build - but in the back ground I have one of the worlds leading CGI studios working on a film to project onto the unlit fire, a leading designer working in the exhibition and experiential world working on the nuts and bolts of ensuring the projection works - and an ex F1 engineer working on a very special effect that we're hoping will happen as the fire burns.
The other thing to note is the fire site has moved - I suspect we have been using the previous site since the end of World War II so it is not something I have taken lightly, but the ever growing pressure the society experiences from local authorities and the emergency services made the move the sensible option. And given a few years for my mind to adapt, there is extraordinary potential in the new site.
Some would say Alfie is my most valued member of the team.....
The fire is supported by 6 main poles, cut as ever from my mates local woods (thanks Richard!) here Shaun, HP, Ronnie (hidden) and Tony upright one of the poles, kept in check by Sid
And here is the fire after the first morning - all 6 poles installed and the first ring beam added.
My Dad (HP) adding the finishing touches on the second day - a hinged trapdoor with a stay...there's no stopping the man!
We merry few. The team from Saturday (minus Ronnie) Tony, Rob, Jon, HP, Shaun and me - thanks to Sid for taking the photo...
More this weekend - if any one fancies lending a hand we'll be on site from 9 on Saturday morning.
A bit late updating the blog this week - last week saw some great work carried out on the sculpture unfortunately we didn't have a great turn out with numbers so progress was a bit limited.
So we're back this Saturday and Sunday morning, desperate for a bit of help so we can push it on a bit.
I'll post progress as soon as I can.
This Saturday, 22nd saw a brilliant turn out and we made some really good progress - Pat lent us his tele-handler to get up to the top of the fire. Usually the field would be much to wet to get the heavy piece of machinery on there - it has been such a dry October! We even had Russell turn out on his Birthday (thank you Russell hope to see you again!).
James being silly....
Julia, the birthday boy Russell and Tony working on the face.
Mike and James fixing the main supports for the head. We even had Vince out helping today as well (thanks Vince - hope you can make it along again as well!)
Unfortunately we didn't have such a great turn out on Sunday - I was hoping to have the neck and head all done - so we could return Pat's heavier tele-handler and next weekend go back to Ant's lighter (but not as higher reach) one. Still the weather is looking like it is set fair so hopefully we shall be able to borrow Pat's again next weekend.
Spent the day working mainly on the face.
Getting ready to lift another section of the face with Mike and Jon working on more sections.
We have made the news this week- unfortunately we've had lots of issues with the local authorities and the emergency services becoming increasingly concerned about the numbers attending our event and the parking issues on the by-pass - which has resulted in new strict no parking regime. We've had to release a press release advertising the event to ask people not to come (!), we have our doubts about the effectiveness off this strategy! Read more HERE The rather brilliant photo shows Jon fixing another layer to the face and is taken by my good friend Jim - More on his work HERE
If you fancy coming to lend a hand this weekend - you'd be most welcome - it is feeling a bit daunting right now!
More next week.
At the penultimate weekend of the build we have finally started making some real visual progress.
It has been an odd build this year - every session feels really productive and yet at the end of it when we've stepped back and looked at the results, the over riding feeling is of how much we still have to do - and how little time we have to do it in! Saturday was another day like that!
Jon in the tele-handler (again thanks Pat) working on the hand - driven expertly by Ant...with James and Mike in the chest creating the profiles for the cladding.
So that is how we left it on Saturday. We all then headed off to Newick for a very good night at their Bonfire Celebrations.
Not quite so many out on Sunday - however, we finally made some really exciting progress. In this photo there's Ronnie working on the front of the fire Rob getting his trusty nail gun ready, Russell cutting a mountain of poppies out for us and Tim Haff. in the tele-handler.
Mike (hidden) and Rob working on the shoulder and upper arm
Rob and Mike continue to work on the other arm. While Ronnie, Trevor, Si and James work on the skirt...while Russell continues to cut even more poppies (hero!)
And this is how it looks at the end of the session still a little to do to finish the front. and I've got the scale wrong on the hands so we will need to unknit those a little. However, I hope that won't take to long. Which means hopefully we'll have next weekend to focus on the wings - which I'm hoping will have a very technical animation happen as the fire burns.......That's this coming weekends challenge!
Which reminds me I've still not outlined the plans for this years bonfire. Which was quite deliberate at first I thought I'd keep you guessing - but I guess it might just be getting a bit annoying now!
So this was my first original sketch
The society doesn't celebrate the 5th of November as do the other Sussex Bonfire Societies do, we have, since the end of the first war commemorated our villages war dead (hence we always are on the weekend of Rememberance Sunday) And this year we are marking the 100 anniversary of the battle of the Somme. Trying to come up with a sculpture to reflect this terrible conflict was not easy - I think it would be impossible to capture the horror and waste. I also worry we are as a nation beginning to stray from right and proper remembrance of the dreadful sacrifice of our fallen and become a little triumphalist in our attitude. Hence I have decided to build an angel - the thinking behind it is offering comfort and solice to the fallen soldiers, the victims of the conflict. Once the build is complete I have a film being made which we will project onto the front of the fire - period footage of columns of marching troops off to meet their doom - with poppy motifs fading in and out.
Next weekend (5th and 6th) is our last weekend to finish the fire - so if you fancy coming along to lend a hand this will be your last opportunity! we'll be there from 9 both Saturday and Sunday. Hope to see you there!
A really good weekend this weekend got us to within touching distance of finishing. So my ambition of finishing the fire the Sunday before our weekend remains unfulfilled!
Still it is close, we should be finished on Thursday, and the projection show which we've trailed a couple of times and is looking really amazing (thank you Matt, and team!), should be up and running on Thursday at dusk.
Saturday dawned bright and lovely...Rob was the only one of us that manged the 8am start (sorry Rob!). As we had so much high level stuff to do - we, for the first time, had two tele-handlers out.
Charles has been working around the clock to work out the best mechanics to employ to ensure the best chance that the wings will lift during the fires burn - here we lifting the second of the wing frames into place.
The Sunday after the 5th is always a little hard after spending the night in Lewes - but work must go on. Here Mike starts cladding the wing frame with feathers.
Tim rather sums up how a lot of us are feeling! (Thanks Ray for the exceptional photo!)
The back of the fire looks really cool - the skeleton of the sculpture laid bare - showing the partially completed mechanics of the wings
So this is how we've left it this weekend. We'll be back on Thursday - to finish the arms and hands. and to set the wings ready for the burn on Saturday. Hopefully the projection should be running by dusk on Thursday.
I'll post again, hopefully on Thursday.
A busy day on Thursday saw the fire completed!
Charles really came into his own working on the mechanics of the wings - they have now the very best chance to lift as the fire burns.
Here are some photos taken as the mechanism was tested.
And here is the amazing Charles and Mike after the successful test - amazing job fellas!
Our great friend Jim Holden came down and took some photos - they so good that I'll upload those in a separate blog HERE. However, here's a taster, thanks Jim!
If anyone gets photos of the fire as it is burnt on Saturday - please email them to me (or share them on social media and tag me) I'd love to see them!
A huge, huge thank you to everyone that has lent a hand this year - it is as always a massive amount of fun (and a fair amount of stress!!). And it is always quite humbling to watch how much my friends are willing to give to make this happen every year - without you guys this wouldn't happen. So thank you. Here's to next year!