By Emma Rodgers and Andrew Edwards
Emma and Andrew met with the Willis family and Peter Price to discuss a sculpture that the family wanted to gift to the City as a small thank you for all the support and comfort expressed by the City when their mother passed away.
Peter had recommended that her sons should meet with Emma and she met with the family in January 2016, providing a research document containing images of different looks through the decades of Cilla's diverse career. This focused on signature poses, hairstyles and clothing. Emma felt that as someone who had achieved and lived her life so much to the full, it would be wonderful to document this in some way within the sculpture. Emma suggested incorporating details into the clothing such as song titles, lyrics, music, catchphrases, programmes, facts and phrases from herself and friends.
From the original meeting, all Emma remembers thinking was, "she had great legs, you have to feature those legs!"
Emma suggested working with artist Andrew Edwards on this piece. He sculpted the Beatles on Liverpool’s river-front. Emma has known him for 15 years as both artists use Castle Fine Art Foundry and thought their different styles would be a great collaboration for this piece.
Robert, Ben and Jack felt that the 60s era of Cilla's life would be most fitting as the sculpture was to be positioned outside the old entrance to the Cavern where she once worked and also performed. Whenever they were back in Liverpool with their Mum, she would always take them to the Cavern and point to this spot explaining it was the original entrance. When they were looking around Liverpool for a suitable site, there was an alarm going off in Mathew Street. When Ben stood in the spot by the old Cavern entrance the alarm stopped, and they took that as a sign of approval.
Emma and Andrew began the process by developing a range of maquettes. Some were based on her singing, others on poses for photo shoots, and of course her signature pose with her arms outstretched. Emma worked with her designer, Gina Kirby, photographing, scaling up and positioning them on images of the original Cavern entrance on Mathew Street.
The Willis brothers chose her signature pose as they felt that with her arms outstretched, it encouraged interaction and was welcoming to all generations as it covered the many stages of her career, from singing on stage through to Surprise Surprise.
Emma and Andrew developed and refined this pose, working closely with Fraser Arnott from the Council and the team at the foundry to ensure the sculpture was as strong and safe as possible.
Once the artists started to scale up the sculpture in clay, they worked from life models. For months, Emma had been surreptitiously sizing up friends who she thought possessed the perfect individual body parts for her to model from. Thus, Kate Eugine with her amazing arms, Sue Wright’s elegant hands and Zara Dyers' fantastic legs all blended together to make the perfect “Cilla”.
Emma then approached and enlisted Alan Henry, her hairdresser based in Anne Roberts Salon.
They had chosen for the sixties bob and Robert had very kindly given Emma a contact sheet to work from which was taken the very first time Vidal Sassoon had cut Cilla’s hair. The look of joy and excitement on her face in the images of a young girl on the crest of the wave of what was to be an incredible career - they just had to work from it!
Kate, Sue, Zara and Alan were brilliant at working with the artists, in the often very cold and industrial foundry.
Emma and Andrew became Alan’s fingers, under strict direction. He brought hairdressing scissors to the foundry, sometime actually using them to cut into the clay.
Once the basic figure was there, Emma then clothed the sculpture in a sixties dress and photographed Cilla from all angles, looking at how the fabric would naturally sit and move on the form. They removed the dress and worked from the photos to build it back up in clay, creating clever creases, almost as if the bronze was actual fabric.
The design of the dress is a hybrid of some of her favourite Mary Quant dresses. Emma and Andrew divided the squares and built up images in relief working from favourite photos from the family. Emma also inscribed text into the panels covering many aspects of her life.
Lastly, as her base, Cilla is stood on a 45 record of "You're My World". Placed on the record is an anemone which she held in both of her wedding bouquets.
It was a real pleasure to work with the family and they gave Emma and Andrew so much information and support. Robert would regularly visit the foundry through the different stages to advise as they went along. Once he was happy with the sculpture, it was moulded and then cast in bronze. The metal was finished and then it was ready to be patinated. Cilla has silver in her dress and had to have her trademark auburn hair.
The piece was then installed and ready for the unveiling on Monday 16th January, the Cavern's 60th Birthday. The Cavern could not have made the artists more welcome in their Birthday Celebrations than the day "Cilla" came home .