The sculpture was commissioned by Berkeley Homes (Hampshire) Ltd for the The Plaza at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth. Part of a section 106 agreement several artists made proposals for a piece for the plaza that had been designed by RPS, Chandlers Ford. It was project managed by Claire Looney of Portsmouth CC with the casting done by the Bronze Age Foundry in Limehouse.
The creation in bronze of a whales tail for the plaza in front of No 1 Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. was partly inspired by a conversation with fellow sculptor and competitor Charlie Carter over a cup of coffee near the site. Other ideas came from working with local schools but also from the poetry and photographs in the book by Heathcote Williams Whale Nation; it also refers to the nautical heritage and history of the area and is a metaphor for the almost migratory life of sailors and the vast depth of sea beneath the hull of the boat. The surface of the sculpture is incised with imagery taken from sixteenth century charts of Iceland by Ortelius and Apianus’s Cosmographia that is probably the worlds first atlas. I went to the Maritime Museum in Greenwich and wore cotton gloves for a closer look at these gems and having enlarged them onto paper composed and engraved them onto the wax surface of the full scale model. This practice is reminiscent of the sailors art of scrimshaw often carved on whalebone as well as the idea that the world was flat and full of dangerous monsters
To date this is the project that took the longest time to realise having first won the competition in 2003. I began work on the full scale model using wood, steel, plaster and wax in November 2006 and had the work on the sculpture finished by May 2007. It was then moulded and over the next year a wax model was made and cast. Once all the pieces of bronze had been weded together and the surface fettled it was patinated and delivered to Gunwharf Quays. It was finally positioned in March 2008 amidst a mele of people I had invited, members of the public, Berkeleys people and the Mayor and Mayoress of Portsmouth who opened it to the public.
Whale's Tail is located on the Plaza at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth.