Ben Long's evolving series of Scaffolding Sculptures examines the value of hard graft associated with manual employment and describes the process of work as a methodical, cumulative endeavor. Inspired by his experiences working on building sites as a teenager, Long constructed the first of his Scaffolding Sculptures in 2004 after two years of development for this ambitious series of artworks.
Thematically, Scaffolding Sculptures utilise cultural archetypes familiar in domestic and decorative art, whilst also making reference to art historical imagery such as Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer and Whistlejacket by George Stubbs. With each artwork the base structure serves to visually reinforce the sculptural intent of the project, making comparisons with the plinth, as well as reminding the viewer of a conventional use of scaffolding based on the familiar right-angle and cross bracing process.
Throughout this project Long has worked closely with various industry specialists including D+R Scaffolding Group and John Sisk & Son. These partnerships have helped to improve working methods, develop technique and overcome logistical and structural difficulties inherent with each permutation. Relative to the size and complexity of each design, a single Scaffolding Sculpture may take up to three weeks to construct, the on-going creative act being publicly visible, and thereby lending a performance aspect to the project.
Despite their monumental scale, Scaffolding Sculptures may be dismantled to become new artworks at a later stage. This state of semi-permanence remains true to the intended function of modular scaffolding. Viewed as a chronological series, it demonstrates Long's ambition to continually progress in this unconventional medium, both in terms of the increase in size and the figurative success of each subsequent rendering. Just as a child plays with a simple building system such as Lego or Mechano, taking components apart and re-building on a whim, it is the continual development of Scaffolding Sculptures that takes precedence over any one complete artwork.