Artist Adam Coley’s thoughts on Plymouth Platform…

A Statue of a Very Fat Seagull, Adam Coley. Photograph by Dom Moore
Reflections from the local pigeon lord

Hello, Adam Coley here;

... Local pigeon lord, and harbinger of the Very Fat Seagull! I have been a recurring participant in the Weekender for three years now, but this year I participated as a Plymouth Platform mentee, mentored by Ben Borthwick.

‘A Statue of a Very Fat Seagull’ was perhaps my most ambitious idea to date. I’ve never done sculpture before, so to propose such a bold material thing with no experience was equal parts exciting and terrifying. There were many times I felt I might have been in over my head, but with the right guidance at the right time we managed to pull it off, and the Fat Seagull sat proudly for 3 days in the middle of the city centre, resisting the strong winds. Not even the forces of nature could dislodge the Fat Seagull.

I was adamant that it was going to be ‘my year’, so I was thrilled to be given a space on
Plymouth Platform. I knew I wanted to do something big and this was the perfect opportunity, but of course 2020 was a thing and this year has been a bother to just about all of us in some way or another. I was furloughed throughout the first lockdown, and was made redundant a little while after it, so naturally a lot of time this year was spent alone thinking about nothing but giant seagulls. There was a lot of research that needed doing: What material will it be made from? How much will this thing cost? What is it going to look like? What is this going to mean to those who see it? Where am I going to put the thing when I realise I need to take it back with me afterwards? And a whole other list of logistical kerfuffles that aren’t always immediately visible. Because of Covid, even knowing where I was going to carve the seagull became a problem. With Ben’s help we managed to whittle these questions down and create a realistic project roadmap that would see the birth of Plymouth’s future mascot (hopefully) and the social aspects of the project. We also wondered about the seagulls life after PAW, and maybe someday I’ll be able to find a proper home for him, another thing which is a little more awkward because of Covid.

I describe the creative process of the seagull as ‘cathartic’. Fat Seagull began its life as a 6ft
4-ish block of solid polystyrene that towered intimidatingly over me from the corner of my living room for a couple of months until it was time to start carving. It was kinda daunting to start because it was so big and every cut you make is permanent, but when I got the confidence to just do it the whole process became such a relief, especially after such a frustrating few months. Seeing this momentous thing slowly take shape in front of me was such a thrill. I was posting on my social media as I went and it was a pleasure to share the journey with everyone. My house was a mess for a good few weeks though.

Feedback from the seagull has been overwhelming, I’m so glad I got to share him with everyone and he really started to feel like he was developing his own character. I applied for the Plymouth Platform because I wanted to take the next big step as an artist and now that it’s all done I feel like I’ve finally put myself out there. Although I didn’t get to see much else happening over the Weekender I did get to meet a bunch of new people over the weekend and through the online supper clubs. Overall I feel much more confident as an artist and where my strengths are, and have a much better idea about what I can and need to do to keep going.

It was great that PAW was able to go ahead this year, and you’ll hopefully see me again next year too. Till next time, stay safe,

Adam Coley & The Very Fat Seagull