David McFall R.A. (1919 - 1988)


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1988/3 The Son of Man

Standing Christ at Canterbury Cathedral

The following diary entries record the poignant and often harrowing progress on this work.  McFall was absolutely determined to finish it and seemingly he kept himself going through this time by an immense will-power, despite his advancing cancer.

23/9/86 post photos to Canterbury Cathedral;

1/8/87 get plan of cathedral to pinpoint statue;

5/10/87 commence building armature;

19/10/87 cut out cardboard silhouette of the Christ;

26/10/87 clay base;

28/10/87 clay base in;

9/11/87 clay up - will the armature hold?

10/11/87 clay more clay;

16/11/87 weight of clay coming forward;

17/11/87 right forearm strutted;

19/11/87 features of Christ roughed in;

23/11/87 legs lengthened 2";

28/12/87 right hand up, and down;

29/12/87 too tired to uncover, write to Canterbury encl photo;

31/12/87 year ends in anger & frustration - cannot keep abreast of the Christ, progress negligible.  exhausted.

3/1/88 better progress on R hand;

11/1/88 cut feet away & lower base level;

12/1/88 feet on again/remodelling;

18/1/88 right hand of God the Father drops;

19/1/88 conjunctivitus - concentrate on drapery folds;

21/1/88 left hand of God the F - fatigued as before;

22/1/88 try to conclude draperies, tired beyond help - pain persistent in thorax;

24/1/88 a very very little work - so tired;

26/1/88 some work on drapery;

31/1/88 some detail work on drapery;

1/2/88 clay v. hard - FINISH modelling;

6/2/88 Chris P [Poulton - City & Guilds] gets shims on up to chest height; I mould R hand;

7/2/88 Chris P shims up to top;

8/2/88 Chris with Ben start moulding top half;

9/2/88 I squeeze the R hand & spray exposed rear of Christus;

10/2/88 chip out R hand - much nagging pain;

11/2/88 bad pain lump coming up again side of thorax;

13/2/88 Chris & Ben moulding completed - bad pain all day;

14/2/88 Chris alone opens up back and cleans most of the clay;

15/2/88 better day, I clean out face & all except feet & base.  clear away mountain of clay;

17/2/88 moulds all clean;

19/2/88 Chris & Allen, Ben, Anthony, Bob & Mike lower mould down to horizontal;

20/2/88 Chris & Ben start filling;

21/2/88 mould upright;

22/2/88 timbers off/plaster soggy, some voids in the hair... much pain;

23/2/88 face clear bad seams (open) pain/fatigue - give up at lunch & fall asleep;

24/2/88 very unwell.  pain stops work: mould soggy & difficult to chip out;

25/2/88 much pain but able to chip down to bottom of drapery, awful soggy pink plaster.  have to fight for every ½ inch - very bad seams, much work to be done to restore cast;

26/2/88 super human effort, remove all pink plaster down to feet & shovelled outside; pain as before;

27/2/88 last blue out of hair - two halves not joined - void all the way round; pain intense again;

29/2/88 begin making good casting faults on plaster;

1/3/88 & 2/3/88 plaster repairs;

3/3/88 SMASH off Head & shoulders with brute force - no rebate pieces connected with scrim; pain now killing me;

4/3/88 head & shoulders now up on modelling stand, smash away unnecessary plaster, floor (sic) in middle piece; pain terrible;

6/3/88 defeated by pain - all day in bed. Arise at 4pm enter unheated studio & burst middle section free with 4 violent blows, return to bed ½ hour later;

7/3/88 determined onslaught on head & shoulders at stand level; offer up into position unaided - joints repairable, but no rebate or key - acute pain in side;

9/3/88 Bob & Francis 3 parts separated - violent constipation work impossible;

10/3/88 pain killers - a little work on left foot;

11/3/88 R foot;

14/3/88 too much pain now;

15/3/88 tilt up ½ inch angle of head, assembled standing on floor of studio;

[hospital 16-18/3/88];

19/3/88 attempt at making good chest joint - pain cont'd;

20/3/88 some attempt at correction of top back seam of the Christ in studio

[20/3/88 pm back to hospital until 7/5/88 - chemotherapy starts 27/3/88];

6/4/88 the Nazarene plaster goes to Fiorini's foundry;

12/4/88 shaky letter of thanks to Cantab. for second instalment;

12/5/88 Fiorini's waxes of Christ's head & arm;

13/7/88 The Nazarene in Bronze;

20/7/88 phone Canterbury, Nazarene loading unseen by me;

22/7/88 Nazarene to be delivered to Canterbury by John Burgess & Fiorini;

26/7/88 cheque from Canterbury final; Fiorini champagne;

10/8/88 plaster of Nazarene back;

David McFall wrote the following forward entries in his diary (he died on 18th September 1988).

7/10/88 Mass in B Minor C Cathedral 7.30pm;

8/10/88 3.15pm evensong & unveiling by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Runcie [the diary records an invitation to tea at 4.15pm following the ceremony]

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