Antony Gormley’s intention had been to allow this cast iron sculpture to form a natural patina of rich red and orange rust. However at some point the sculpture had been painted with a thick, shiney black paint. When it was delivered to Hall Conservation Ltd’s studio it was due for sale at auction within five days and needed to be restored to the artists intended finish.
The sculpture is hollow and made in two halves, divided longitudinally from head to feet with a welded joint between the two halves. Unfortunately the original joint had cracked, and as an outdoor piece water had entered into the cavity of the body causing internal corrosion and leaving rust staining where the water ran out again. An estimated six litres of water remained in the sculpture and it had to be slung from the lifting gantry to allow it to drain out over a period of several precious hours. With insufficient time to allow analysis of the paint several methods were tested for it’s removal, including chemical and flame cleaning, the most effective method proved to be gentle air abrasion. With the paint removed, the cracked weld was ground out and re-welded and then the sculpture was kept constantly wetted to allow the patina to develop, just in time for the sale preview.