Ford's Mark II Concorde takes off

By Kristin Edge

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BURNED OUT INCENTIVE: Malcolm Ford with the charred remains of his first copper concorde sculpture, which he hopes will inspire him on his second version of the intricate work. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
BURNED OUT INCENTIVE: Malcolm Ford with the charred remains of his first copper concorde sculpture, which he hopes will inspire him on his second version of the intricate work. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Tarnished old copper toilet cisterns will become an intricate sculpture of a concorde plane under the expert eye and hand of artist Malcolm Ford.

It's not the first time the 87-year-old, from Whangarei, has built a concorde. But this sculpture will be bigger than his first that was destroyed in a house fire.

The new sculpture will be close to 1.5 metres long and while it will cost a fraction of the price of a supersonic one it will be just as eye-catching.

"I don't have plans and there are no compasses involved. It's all in my head," Mr Ford said.

"I'm still thinking how to go about it. Nothing's perfectly round and I free-hand with copper."

The former teacher and engineer has the charred remains of his first work and reckons it will inspire him while creating the next version.

In 1996 he sold the first model, named "Konk-Korde", but Mr Ford was not sure who had bought it. It was only in February this year that he learned where his sculpture had flown to and of its unscheduled demise.

The sculpture had been bought for New Plymouth engineer and art patron John Matthews by his wife Lynda.

Unfortunately their home and a majority of their nationally significant contemporary New Zealand art collection featuring major works by Don Driver, Ralph Hotere, Tony Fomison and Michael Smither went up in flames in January, 2014.

In a phone call in February Mr Matthews said he wanted to commission Mr Ford to make another concorde sculpture and he was interested in any other pieces of work he had.

Mr Matthews travelled to Whangarei and bought a copper sculpture entitled Flying bedstead - a work Mr Ford modelled on the Thrust Measuring Rig, a pioneering vertical take-off and landing aircraft developed by Rolls-Royce in the 1950s.

He was also commissioned to make another piece for Mr Matthews in recognition of his company's heritage. It will be a a tanker with a complicated spraying system used in the process of laying bitumen roads.

"I'll have to wait and see some photos before I start that. I'm keen on anything mechanical."

But Mr Ford is first interested in completing the concorde.

"It's quite exciting, especially when I found out who he was and known very well as an art collector."

He visited Mr Matthews' property in New Plymouth and collected the remains of the damaged concorde sculpture.

It took him six weeks to complete the first sculpture.

The newest edition should be completed by the end of September.

Already he has finished the elaborate engines and undercarriage. Everything should just flow from there.

Mr Ford has been exhibiting artworks - initially as a painter - since the 1960s.

His large oil of the MS Bismarck under attack was shown at the Rowley Gallery in London in 1962.

It was followed by a year in an exhibition that toured through Britain.

- Northern Advocate

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