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Monument by Rachel Whiteread

'Monument' is a facsimile of the granite plinth on which is stood, cast in water-clear resin. It sat reversed on top of the original, its huge bulk rendered almost insubstantial by the material. The work was to refract the bustling traffic of the square.

Technique: Monument is a replica of the stone plinth on which is stands cast in water-clear resin and inverted on top of the original. The mould was not made directly from the plinth as it is a listed monument and therefore it is not possible to take a cast of it. The mould was constructed to the same dimensions.
Approximately 11 tons of the material were used to make it. It is cast in two hollow sections which sit one on top of the other. Each section was stage poured over several hours into an aluminium mould. It was demoulded ater 30 hours and continued to cure over the next week.
The interior was filled and sanded where marks had been left by the mould, and then sprayed with a clear lacquer.
Rachel's proposal for the plinth was submitted in May 1998. Research and development began in May 1999, but with the current resin supplier in August 2000. It took four months to construct the mould.
The Monument was poured at the beginning of May 2001. The making of the plinth was delayed by the technical difficulties involved in casting such a large volume of resin. A long period of research and development was necessary to determine the right material and casting technique.
Some of the particular difficulties were: the varying thicknesses of different parts of the mould; the high temperatures generated inside the mould by the curing of the resin; the tendency of resin to contract as it hardens. Several test casts up to half a ton were made, and once there was a success on this scale, the project proceeded to the actual pour.
Rachel Whiteread has pushed materials and techniques to their limites, and this is the largest cast ever made in resin.
Artist:Rachel Whiteread
Artwork type:sculpture
Material:clear resin
Measurements:450 x 510 x 250 mm
Technique:casted resin
Location:Trafalgar Square, London, UK, until May 2002.
Rights owner:Rachel Whiteread
Rights status:UK HE use only
Institution:University of Brighton
Notes:The walls are 12 cm at their thinnest point.
Date: Proposal for the plinth was submitted in May 1998.
Research and development began in May 1999.
The Monument was poured at the beginning of May 2001.
It was unveiled on Monday 4th June at 3pm in Trafalgar Square by The Right Hon. Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The project was coordinated, and the mould designed and engineered, by Mike Smith, a designer and fabricator for artists based on South London.

The material was supplied by Smooth-On, an American company, through their UK agents Bentley Chemicals. It was developed specifically for this application.

It is not known where 'Monument' will go after May 2002, but it is likely to be acquired from Rachel's galleries by a collector or museum. A replica of the stone plinth will be constructed for it to sit on in a new location.

'Monument' is Rachel Whiteread's fourth major public work, after the turner prize-winning 'House' in 1993-4, her resin cast of a water tower in New York for the Public Art Fund, and the Holocaust Memorial in Vienna.

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Rachel Whiteread 1987

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