My first real encounter with one of Santiago’s sculptures was when I was ten. It was a quiet Sunday morning and I was ecstatic to finally get to see his East End workshop. On the short walk to the Bromley By Bow Centre, where his workshop was based, I noted the many abandoned buildings, not to say that Central Birmingham where I lived at the time, was any more glamorous, but here was a notably run down area.
The workshop was full of exotic tools and intricate little carvings. There were wood shavings on the floor and the delicious smell of beeswax permeated the air.
While my grandad hammered away for the rest of the afternoon I got down to playing in the adjacent hall, it had a piano and a shiny wooden floor that I made into a giant skate rink by skidding about in my socks.
Every so often his head would pop out and a stern stare would grind this activity to a halt.
Curious to see what he was working on, I wandered into his workshop to have a look. Up on the work bench was a large humanoid shaped object. Grandad told me it’s name was Prometheus. He explained that he’d made it with scraps of wood he’d found in a skip. I circled the sculpture observing the manifold intricate details: Part skeleton, part robot, with exposed anatomical elements, it was obviously the work of a madman. The spine area was the best part with its visible rib cage and vertebrae. Right on the humanoids bottom was a strange sort of protruding horn. ‘What’s that?’ I asked, expecting some sort of serious response.
“Para los peos” he chuckled. (for his farts!)