The Earthquake / by Adrian Joyner

Much more recently, a piece of my sculpture was destroyed in an earthquake. Well, an earth tremor. It was a biggish object, a somewhat larger than life sized torso. I made a plaster mould from a clay original and then cast it in white cement, so it was quite a substantial chunk of stuff, and heavy.

I could just about lift it. I installed it near to the big house in Greece, but since the tiled patio surface wasn’t level, I inserted a round stone under one side to make it stand straight. It looked stable enough and it stood there for some months.

One night, there was a not particularly noteworthy earth tremor, though it did wake us up. In the morning the torso was reduced to a shattered fan of white cement fragments. It seems that the round stone had been dislodged by the tremor and the whole thing had gone over on its face. It was some months before I had the heart to repair it. Actually I quite like the look of repaired sculpture and over the years I have fixed a lot of it, mostly ceramic pieces which have either exploded in the kiln or been broken accidentally. They remind me of museum objects, archaeological finds which have been reassembled from fragments.

The idea behind the piece of work that fell over during the seismo is not uninteresting. It’s a female torso, naked, obviously, with the arms crossed so that each hand holds a separate breast. The fingers are parted to reveal the nipples. The nipples themselves were drilled so that the torso could serve as a fountain, though it has never been installed as a fountain. 

 Linda and I had visited Nurnberg in Germany where I had heard there was a fountain in a square in the altstad which includes a group of Nurnberg matrons expressing water from their several pairs of nipples. The piece itself turned out to be a slightly pinched affair, something of a lost opportunity, I thought, which is why, I suppose, I was moved to respond to such an excellent motif.