Procol Harum

the Pale

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Venue needed for Special Procol Line-up

Fans invited to help in unusual project

The project we featured a few months back, to install a piece of Procol Harum statuary in the magnificent Opera House at Białystok, Poland, has run into unexpected difficulties.
Sculptor Chris R
zeźbiarz believes that readers of BtP may be able to help resolve the predicament that he describes below:

“My work since about 2002 has consisted mainly of detailed statues of rock musicians, either in action or in repose. Bronzes featuring artists such as Chuck Berry, Tiny Tim, Lennon and Frank Zappa will be well-know for your readers both in Europe and in States of America. These and many others were, however, commissions – highly profitable commissions in frequently cases – which have permitted me to follow spare-time passion, creating suitably monumental public pieces depicting all heroes of Prog Rock.

“Of Procol Harum, I am in truth the lifelong fan. In fact I was born sameday A Whiter Shade of Pale was released in Oszust. I studied at Sculpture Institute in London for many years, and at your Whitechapel Foundry, where I was neighbour to one of old players on Lime Street Blues, with whom I spent happy hours.

“During that heady evening at his bedsit I was able to study early images of Procol band, both still and moving. His stash of Standard 8 home-movies of rehearsals for first album – with so-called ‘classic line-up’ – was invaluable resource and I make numerous drawings, in charcoal and in aquavit, by freeze-frame techniques, which have to stop only when film melted away and fire-brigade was invited.

“Into present time. Returning in 2002 to my home town of Łajno I set up my atelier and went into partnership with small casting-company, using furnaces acquired from former shipyard. As my statuary outpit grow more ambitious, so my commission came from further and farther a-field. Perhaps most pleasing of money-projects was ten-foot high image of prancing unidexter Ian Anderson, which now stands at South Pole (or there it did stand, until it snapt off at its ankle and toppled in snow. Insurance job, fortunately).

“Have always worked from photographs, in combinations with live drawings of human wannabees: these I contact through the fan clubs. These are never happier, than when mimicking posture of their idols. When Procol Harum played Slupsk nearby, however, I was able to sketch late-flowering line-up at the first-hand, and glimpsed offstage antics, as band skipped from the backstage into limo after what many considered ‘first-class recital’.

“Thus was it born my ambition to sculpt this wonderful band, not any ‘historic’ line-up, but of mine own phantasy, picking cherry-players combined from all eras of band’s existence. Manager of our famous Opera House is (he was) drinking-pal of mine, and so idea was hatched (style of a hen's egg) to commemorate Procol in shine on brightly metal, at foyer of famously renowned building where famous staircase sweeps down to ticket-kiosk.

“All proceeded well. I have various ‘Palers’ pose for my early stages – sketchbook, armatures, plaster and clay-workings. I designed different species of motors and pumps to articulate and animate my musical figures – and to guarantee/warranty 101% accurateness mine apprentices make bronze castings from Steinway grand piano, Hammond digital B3 and Yamaha Motif synth in my atelier, also of the drumset kit favoured by Bobby Harrison, and a huge, sordidly authentic bass stack. Needless to say, I say, my bassist of-choice has been Dave Bronze but to reduce confusion he (his hat) has been cast solidly in aluminium.

“All other work had to be ceased and desist while I labour on this titanic piece. Foreign mayoresses and ambassadors from all territories were spurned from my door as I devoted myself with unexampled zeal to task in hand, listening both night and day to Procol, and their music. Such were dimensions of the piece (since 2011 I am working at Scale 3:1) I was obliged to have back wall of my atelier removed to get finished maquette out to local foundry, to be there cast (then buffed and finished) in no fewer than 67 separate sections over course of eleven months.

“While jesting with my (one-time) drinking companion, about all major trouble his Procol statue was causing me, I came against my first infallible obstriction. His board of bureaucrats and directors had refused to have front of Opera House removed, to install the piece when it was assembled. It might have been possibility to take out just a few strategic doors and windows, and bringing sculpture in piecemeal: but an additional difficulty is posed by its height. The effigy of Dave Ball, for instance, stands 21 feet high and would make necessary to cut a hole in ornamental Renaissance ceiling, and permit  his head to poke up into Grand Circle area (facing the stage). This, bureaucratics determined, was ‘beyond the pale’.

“So to ‘Beyond the Pale’ I turn, wondering if its thousands of readers will be able to suggest suitable building (preferably with musical connection … an airfield, for example, or a fish-works, or Papal bordello would seem scarcely apt) where finished Procol Harum statue (it plays opening riff of Poor Mohammed at ear-splitting volume, night and day) could conveniently be exhibited, to eternal glory of Procol band.

“Your suggestions are welcome [send them to] but please take awareness that I am in final stages of very promising and lucrative agreement with 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame' at Cleveland, America … so my offer likely be annulled anytime, with no further warning.”

Procol Harum history in print

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