In the mid 1980's Mason was one of a small group of locally based artists chosen to create public artworks for an initiative jointly stimulated by Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County councils. With support from East Midlands Arts, through advice from the Visual Arts Officer David Manley, City Technical Services Director John Haslam selected a number of proposals for consideration. Paul Mason had produced a small maquette in marble for a large work that he envisaged in the same material that would take the form of a fountain.
This was chosen (alongside pieces by Richard Perry & Hilary Cartmel) to be in the vanguard of an ambitious scheme of re-envisaging the city (to include better street furniture, plantings and surfaces) along the lines of other Continental cities that Haslam had seen on recent excursions to Germany and elsewhere. For Mason it required a deal of research and the eventual contracting of an Italian marble quarry to supply the stone. As importantly it further stimulated an interest in Italy and particularly in the marble quarries and the Apuan Alps region of northern Tuscany.
Following initial visits the artist dispatched the maquette to the workshop in Italy where a phone call suggested the masons there "might rough the stone out" following the form from the piece sent through to them. The artist was therefore surprised to arrive in Italy to find the piece very nearly completed! The photo above shows the stone when the artist arrived in the yard...and the one below as sited in Nottingham. Mason recalled that the workers in the yard told the story of Henry Moore similarly finding a piece virtually completed. On that occasion the press were invited and with a photo of the 'maestro' about to be taken of him 'finishing' the piece with chisel in hand...the master carver of the yard stepped forward advising that he was holding it at the wrong angle! Anyone who has visited Carrara, Massa or Pietrasanta and seen some of the exotic pieces carved from this material will see just how complex some of the work can be.
The sited work has been controversial from the beginning. Like the Beeston piece Water Head, it has been much discussed. My contribution to this can be found here, in an interview with Tamar Feast.