Stefano Rivetti di Val Cervo e Bruno Innocenti con alle spalle il “bozzettone” di 5 metri – 1965

CONSTRUCTION

In the meantime, on the top of Mount San Biagio, a framework of iron and concrete was being built. It would later become the supporting skeleton inside the statue: a layer of cement and marble would be laid down on it in a single casting, and, by filling up the plaster mould, would reproduce the exact image of the sculpture I had moulded in Florence. To be exact, the moulding of the “large model” pieces to the final size was carried out by me in a large spinning mill in Tavarnuzze, near Florence, on the road to Chianti.

The framework I mentioned above is formed of two immense pillars that reach the level of the shoulders inside the statue and are connected, every 4 vertical metres, by slabs of concrete reinforced with iron. At the top the slabs form two large branches, left and right, that internally support the arms and hands of the statue. All this is fixed to the mighty foundations that are branched out and anchored to the living rock of the mountain.

When the framework had been completed, we began the actual casting of the statue, starting from the bottom upwards, and placing each of the sections of the mould one on top of the other. At the same time we created a shaped wooden counter-mould, with a hollow space between the mould and the counter-mould: this ensured that, when the cement-and-marble mixture was cast, a suitable thickness would be obtained, with close, accurately-made connections to the previously-made framework, just as the muscular system covers the skeleton in the human body.

Day after day, the casting had to proceed without ever stopping, without any interruption. The statue grew as the white cement-and-marble mixture filled up the hollow space between the mould and the counter-mould. This went on until the top of the head was reached.

We worked for many months, always worrying that the weather might change for the worse, making an interruption inevitable. Fortunately this did not happen, so we can really say that the statue is “monolithic”, a single piece from its foundations to its head and hands.

It was just a few days before Christmas when we poured the last cauldrons of cement-and-marble mixture on top of the head, and it was dark. Beneath us the faraway lighted-up village of Maratea, seen through the scaffolding where we were working, rather looked like a crèche, and the first drops of cold rain and sleet were beginning to fall. The deep winter had waited enough: now it had come! But the statue was there.

A few days’ pause, then the frantic demolition of the mould, and the statue was free – it was cast! And it could be made out in the daytime, under the close, intricate mass of scaffolding.

Bruno Innocenti