LONDON - In two months time I am going to open my largest outdoor sculpture show to date. The location is the magnificent Singapore Botanic Gardens, and the show, a collaboration between Sotheby's and the Singaporean government. Over the next two months I’m going to be contributing to sothebys.com Before I tell you about my preparations for this ambitious show, I would like to share with you my recent experience in two other unusual projects.
Since I was young I have wanted to fly – a fantasy shared by kids all over the world. One Saturday, in the mid 1970s when I was a sculpture student at St. Martins School of Art, I went to visit the British Museum. On my way out, across the road facing the museum entrance, I noticed a strange and colourful shop window – the first magic shop I have ever seen – a little late for a boy in his mid twenties.
Vila Nova de Cerveira, Portugal.
I entered the shop and there was an American magician standing there trying to make a cigarette vanish in his palm. He must have been a lousy magician as my eyes spotted it immediately, but the simplicity of the move that produced such a dramatic effect hooked me. I have been an amateur magician ever since.
Gradually, however, I stopped believing in magic and replaced it with a new belief – illusion. While I have abandoned the childhood ambition of flight, I now want to float a building…
The first model of Zadok Ben-David’s idea.
Recently I had my first chance to realize this fantasy. In February last year I was approached by architect Gilberto Carlos from Escola Superior Gallaecia, School of Architecture, Design and Art in Vila Nova de Cerveira, a northern town in Portugal. The direction of Gallaecia was interested in creating a concept for a new art gallery.
My initial reaction was one of honour and horror. Promised the help and support of the school's architects and the engineers, I said yes, before I had the chance to regret it. To coincide with the Biennal of Cerveira, I was given a speedy deadline for the inauguration of the new space – July 2011 – leaving only five months for designing, planning permission and completion! Seeing is believing, and surprisingly half an hour later I had a very clear idea.
Construction has begun.
I was given a short brief about the restrictions for the building – no bigger than 35 feet long, 25 feet wide and 25 feet high. The space should include an exhibition area, a small storage space, reception and lavatory, all in under 875 square feet. I persuaded them there is no need for any of these – the school's main building is only a few feet away from where the gallery can be easily managed, allowing a simpler and bigger exhibition space. The building I conceived would ‘float’ on a steel and concrete cube and long metal “I beams”. The structure was to be made of metal and wood, plastered inside and outside. For the outside I had chosen a terracotta/red colour. The lighting would be at the bottom, changing colour on a nine-minute cycle.
Stay tuned for part two where I see if this project can actually be realised.
For more information on Zadok Ben-David’s Sotheby’s exhibition in Singapore visit