My first real encounter with one of Santiago’s sculptures was when I was ten. Ecstatic to finally get to see the workshop, I skipped along asking all sorts of questions. As we walked to the Bromley By Bow Centre I noticed lots of abandoned buildings and the general shabbiness of the place, 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 wooden 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.
I went back into the workshop to see what he was up to. Up on the work bench was a large man shaped object. Grandad told me it’s name was Prometheus. He also told me he’d made it with bits of wood he’d found in a skip. I circled the sculpture with a great curiosity. Part skeleton, part robot, with exposed anatomical elements, it was obviously the work of a mad man. The spine area was the best part with a visible rib cage and vertebrae. Right on the bottom area was a strange sort of protruding horn. ‘What’s that?’ I asked, expecting some sort of serious response.
“Para los peos” he chuckled. Translation: for his farts!