By Lynsey Dreaper
With the Arkle statue now tantalisingly close to completion and the unveiling just a couple of months away, the Arkle Memorial Statue Fund committee members are working hard to ensure that everything will be in place for the big day.
Several members of the Arkle Memorial Statue Fund committee paid a visit to the Dublin foundry, Bronze Art Foundry, last week and found themselves face to face with the fruit of almost two years of hard work.
The life-sized statue of Arkle and Pat Taaffe stands in the centre of the foundry floor where three members of the foundry staff are working to weld the individually cast sections together and then smooth away the joins. This is one of the final stages of an intricate process that has gone without a hitch so far.
The next step is the colouring of the bronze to a dark brown reminiscent of Arkle's own colour.
It is an undeniably impressive piece of work, even to the committee members who had seen it throughout the various stages of production. Paddy Woods, Arkle's work rider and a man who knew the great horse better than most, was visiting the statue for the first time and was, perhaps for the first time ever, lost for words.
Later he was full of praise for the sculptress responsible, Emma Mac Dermott. "It's an incredible likeness," Paddy said, "she has done an excellent job on Pat Taaffe too, I can't fault it."
Emma Mac Dermott spent the best part of a year researching and designing the statue in her studio before completing the clay version in August of 2012. Once satisfied with the clay version, she had a resin and rubber mould made and sent to the foundry. Through a lost wax technique, the crew at the foundry made the individual segments of the piece by pouring bronze at over 1000° centigrade which, once set, were then welded back together. The statue is hollow with steel rods inside the frame, supporting it and running down through the legs and bronze base to be fastened inside the stone plinth.
While the site for the statue has been earmarked, there is a degree of urgency in ensuring everything comes together before the end of the national hunt season. It is widely agreed that unveiling the jump racing champion in the middle of the flat season would not sit well at all.
The design for the setting is about to be signed off on and landscape architect Tim Austen was also at the foundry for the visit. Seeing the statue so near completion gave Tim an excellent idea of exactly what the project entailed and inspired him to create a design that will be a huge attraction to the town, enhancing it aesthetically and constituting a huge draw for visitors.
Since its launch at Easter 2011, the committee have managed to raise almost the total amount required to complete the statue and are now working with various parties to finalise financing for the site preparations. For any further information contact Lynsey Dreaper on (087) 1504022 and visit the Arkle Memorial Statue Fund Facebook page to see photos of the statue throughout the various production phases.