My Week: Mark Wallinger

Mark Wallinger: Sculptor of Trafalgar Square's new statue of Christ
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The Independent Culture
Sunday

I feel fairly wiped out today, after working on my Trafalgar Square sculpture of Christ all week. I get up late and go to a birthday party on Hampstead Heath with about 25 friends. We have a picnic and play a ludicrous computerised tennis game. One of my friends does a streak across the park. It happens so quickly, it is like an apparition. Despite the atmosphere of general exuberance, I find it hard to relax. I only have a couple of beers as I have a busy week ahead.

Monday

I head down to Alec Ryman's studio in Frieth, near Henley, where my sculpture is housed. By sanding, waxing and buffing, we perfect the marble-effect finish. We also have to sculpt the loin-cloth so it looks like a carving rather than a piece of material that has been cast. We decided on the finish for the crown of thorns. The last thing to change is a slight bag under one of the eyes. The work is hard but fun. I don't get home until after midnight.

Tuesday

I head straight back to Frieth. The removal people are breathing down our necks. They have a lorry waiting to transport the sculpture to London.

My nerves are shot to pieces when I get back to London. I don't know where the sculpture spends the night - probably in the back of the lorry.

I go home and cook dinner with my girlfriend, Anna. We ring a few friends to let them know that the BBC has put the time of the unveiling back by eight minutes. I don't want them turning up after it's already happened.

Wednesday

I wake up at 2.30am and again at 4am. It's weird hearing the news of the unveiling on the radio.

I arrive at Trafalgar Square at 7.40am. There have been people putting the sculpture up since first light. I ask the cab to drop me off in The Mall. I want to turn the corner into the square and see the sculpture there. It looks impressive. The purple cloth veiling it comes from the Bible when Christ is mocked as a king. He is given a crown of thorns and wears a purple cloth.

The unveiling takes place at 8.22am exactly. It is a moment I have looked forward to for a year. When it actually happens I am not even watching. I have to face the camera with my back to the sculpture.

There are lots of interviews. People ask stupid questions: do I think it would be suitable to put a statue of Posh Spice and David Beckham on the plinth? Or, do I think my sculpture is worth pounds 1m? This nonsense has little interest for me. I am prepared to answer for my imagery and my work but I find it hard to make a serious point about the sculpture.

After the interviews I go to the RSA for a champagne breakfast. Everyone has gone when I get there. I get half-way through a glass of champagne when a fire alarm goes off and we are all evacuated into the street. I do some more interviews at lunch time then go home for a snooze.

I go back to Trafalgar Square at 7pm to meet up with everyone who has been involved in the project. The light has shifted during the day and there is a more relaxed and convivial atmosphere in the square. I am gratified to see that the sculpture has changed in this light. Works of art must have the capacity to maintain onlookers' interest and draw them back.

The party at the crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields church is great, but I am really tired. I only make it to midnight before going home.

Thursday

I have made a promise not to look at a single newspaper for at least a week. I have had my fair share of bad reviews over the years and I am afraid I may be disappointed today. By 10am, however, I have bought them all.

After a game of tennis in the afternoon, Anna and I go out for a nice meal.

Friday

I potter in my studio in Bermondsey Street. It is enormously untidy. I need to clear the decks and think about the catalogue I am trying to produce following my exhibition in Frankfurt four weeks ago. I am going on holiday next weekend so I need to get cracking.

Interview by

Nathalie Curry

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