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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Iconic 27-ton 'Floating Head' finds itself Back in the Water

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

September 19, 2021

The Floating Head, a sculpture created by artist Richard Groom, as the centrepiece for Glasgow’s 1988 Garden Festival, has been lovingly restored over the past six months, and is now on public display at Canting Basin at Govan Docks, adjacent to Glasgow Science Centre, for the next four weeks. Pictured is Richard Groom on Floating Head on the Clyde. Photo courtesy AMS

The Floating Head, a sculpture created by artist Richard Groom, as the centrepiece for Glasgow’s 1988 Garden Festival, has been lovingly restored over the past six months, and is now on public display at Canting Basin at Govan Docks, adjacent to Glasgow Science Centre, for the next four weeks. Pictured is Richard Groom on Floating Head on the Clyde. Photo courtesy AMS

AMS Global helped out in a most unusual project for the marine consulting and safety firm, helping to return The Floating Head back to the water,  33 years after it was first created.

The Floating Head, a sculpture created by artist Richard Groom, was the centrepiece for Glasgow’s 1988 Garden Festival. It has been carefully restored over the past six months, and is now on public display at Canting Basin at Govan Docks, adjacent to Glasgow Science Centre, for the next four weeks.

Inspired by the carvings on Easter Island, the sculpture was built with support from Govan Shipbuilder Ltd, using the same method used to construct the Mulberry harbours during WWII. At the end of festival, it was scheduled for demolition before being rescued by the owner of a boatyard.

For more than 30 years it lay lost and abandoned in the boatyard, until the family of the late artist managed to track it down and decided they wanted to restore and refloat it. The 30 ft. head, which was designed and built on a steel mesh frame covered with a cement render, based on a standard ferro-concrete yacht hull design, had deteriorated over the years and had to be assessed for damage.

Andy Groom, brother of the late artist, approached Neil Carr, Director at AMS to see if they could help.  AMS donated the services of Associate Surveyor, Captain Bob Sinclair, to survey the sculpture to determine its condition and whether it was repairable.  

He carried out an extensive survey of the 27-ton head producing a full report of its condition and details of the remedial work that would have to be carried out to make the vessel seaworthy again. He also liaised with insurance brokers on the validity or the project.

The restoration project was carried out with support from the Sculpture Placement Group (SPG), an organization funded by Creative Scotland which helps bring sculpture to different audiences. The SPG was instrumental in raising awareness of the project and setting up a crowd fundraiser to pay for repairs. Support also came from Glasgow Science Centre and other partners.


The Floating Head back on the Clyde after 33 years. Photo courtesy AMS




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