Floating Head – Workshop with Ruby Pester

To compliment the Floating Head conservation project, Ruby Pester has designed and hosted this online workshop aimed at younger folk to bring together a combination of skills that created Floating Head and allowing participants to create their own floating sculptures and to learn about the science of floatation, as well as basic sculptural techniques. This workshop was funded by Glasgow City Heritage Trust.

About Floating Head:

Floating Head is an ambitious sculpture that was commissioned for Glasgow Garden Festival, 1988. It was one of five major sculptures commissioned for the festival that were built by shipbuilders at the Govan Docks on the Clyde. The sculpture bonds Glasgow’s industrial history, materials and processes with the process of art-making. The relationship between the artist and the highly skilled shipbuilders wasn’t necessarily collaborative, but the respect between them was clear. George Bonner, one of the shipbuilders working on the project, had fond recollections of the project and artist:

Richard Groom worked as hard as I worked on his job, I’ve never met any other artist, I worked on the ‘Nose to Nose’, ‘The Bollard’ [two of the other artworks commissioned] but I never met those artists personally. I met Richard Groom, and Richard Groom put as much into his design as I did and everybody else.

By the end of the 1980s, the docks were a site of industry in permanent decline. The Garden Festival created a curious relationship between the deserted dry docks, once home to a booming industry, and a short-term bloom of entertainment, contemporary garden design, and rides. The sculpture itself creates a discord between weightiness and buoyancy. It’s monumental in scale, a giant floating concrete head, its profile bobbing just above the water, expressionless and stoic like a relic from a lost civilisation. Disembodied, struggling to remain afloat.

Richard Groom was a highly skilled artist, with an early career exhibiting and selling sculptures through a major London gallery. He worked as an architectural stone carver creating works for many of Scotland’s most loved buildings. Groom taught stone carving at Telford College in Edinburgh before developing and implementing the Traditional Buildings Health Check scheme for Stirling City Heritage Trust. He remained a passionate champion of both traditional sculpture skills and the preservation of the built environment until his death in 2019.

Sculpture Placement Group are partnering with Glasgow Science Centre and the estate of Richard Groom to relocate the iconic sculpture Floating Head in the Canting Basin at Govan Docks. We intend to relocate the sculpture for the summer months of 2020, Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Water, with a view to finding a permanent location on land in the future.

There’s more about Richard Groom and his work in this article by Traditional Buildings Scotland.

Project Funders

About Ruby Pester:

Ruby Pester is one half of the artist duo Pester & Rossi who have been working collaboratively across Scotland and internationally since 2008. The duo’s practice derives from visual art and leads to producing live art, sculpture, installation, public interventions and collaborations in response to people and places. Ruby works collaboratively on a range of projects including previously as part of the collective NOWNOW and more recently as part of Fallopé & the Tubes.

Ruby Pester was born , lives and works as an artist in Glasgow. She studied BA Hons Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee and graduated in 2008. Ruby works collaboratively on a range of projects and has produced art work and events across Scotland and internationally in Berlin, Sweden, Senegal, New York and Venice.

bio by Glasgow Sculpture Studios