ROBERT G. CUNNINGHAM


Master Sculptor


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PreludePrelude was done in 1981 and installed in 1982. It had been neglected for about 20 years and was in extremely bad condition. The bottom part of Prelude is made from fiber-reinforced cement; the upper figures are made of fiber-reinforced epoxy. The deterioration that had taken place in the cement portion of the sculpture was in the form of a large amount of cracking, due to stress that the sculpture underwent during the original installation. Because the panels warped, they pulled together at the ends. This put stress on the panels which actually was relieved over a long period of time by cracking. Also there was a large hole on one of the panels. At the start of the restoration, it was noticed that all the stress was gone. The figures on top were also in bad repair because of exposure to the elements over the 26-year period. There was extreme oxidation, de-lamination of seams, and deterioration of the internal metal structure.

The reconstruction took place over a three-month period, working mostly on weekends. The figures were removed and taken to my studio where they were easier to work on. They were sandblasted a total of three times, all irregularities were patched, seams were filled, they were reinforced internally with epoxy-coated steel and recoated with a 50/50 mixture of resin and bronze powder. The lower part had to be cleaned inside and out. The inside was a ten-foot-square space at the bottom, tapering up 5 feet to a 5-foot square at the top. A hole had to be cut in the bottom for access and then we installed epoxy-coated steel reinforcing top and bottom and cement reinforcement around the inside of the base as well as areas of the walls where cracking was evident.

On the outside, all cracks were ground with the edge of an angle grinder to open them up so that filler material would attach well. Different materials were used for filling the cracks. On the largest, a cement mixture was used very similar to the original fiber-reinforced cement. On the shallower cracks, an all-purpose polyester resin filler was used. Once the patching was completed, it was painted with a good exterior primer and then painted with an exterior acrylic latex paint. After this had cured, the whole sculpture was coated with an anti-graffiti coating. As well as providing graffiti protection, it also protects against UV.

 

 

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