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Once all of the glass bubbles had been filled with breath they were carefully stored while they awaited completion of RHH’s new K-Block. During this time they were treated with ultra violet light to ensure bacteria would not grow inside them in the future.

 

The sealed breath-bubbles were to be placed into seven nets made from woven stainless steel cables, hung at varying heights from the skylight above the new reception area – a three story space forming an ‘internal street’ between the new K-Block and the existing ‘D-Block’ with its familiar red brick façade.

Bundling Breath

 

The on-site installation process took eleven consecutive days, beginning with the welding of anchor points onto the skylight beams at a height of twelve metres. This required the use of a ‘spider boom’ elevated work platform which needed to be craned onto a balcony near the new Campbell St entrance in order to gain access to the site.

 

Once the anchors and main support cables were installed, a specialist rigging company used a complex system of temporary ropes and pulleys to hang each net a short distance off the ground in the main reception area.

Each glass bubble was then carefully selected by the artist, before being cleaned and placed into a net via a side opening which was gradually closed as the net filled. As each bubble was placed, its number, position and weight were recorded in a data base. The process of placing all of the bubbles took approximately five days, with the artist continually adjusting the glass within each bundle to form the desired sculptural shapes.

 

Lifting Hope

When all of the tear-drop shaped bundles were complete, the rigging company returned to help raise each net into its final position using a specialised winch system. Once raised, each bundle was transferred onto its permanent support cable and the temporary ropes removed.

 

This process was one of the most exciting, yet also nerve-wracking parts of the whole installation - watching each net gradually ascend to its final position and seeing the final composition take shape.  It was also a very moving process – especially seeing the first nets go up – with all involved breathing a sigh of relief and joy as the last net found its lofty home.

 

Quietly triumphant, a beautiful symbol of life, hope, and community had been gently lifted up, finding its place in the midst of much challenge and change as the season of Covid19 tightened its grip on the world outside and K-Block was readied to play its part.

Chapter 3: Lifting Hope

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© 2020 Keith Dougall

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