How Gerry Judah, a London-based artist, came up with the idea of mounting three 911s on top of streamlined steel pillars that extend 79 feet up in the air. We present an extraordinary master of monumental sculpture.
Gerry Judah pulls up to the party in a black
The 64-year-old Londoner is a striking figure among the guests who have assembled at the
Judah knows how important a congenial team is for his work. A team that can understand his vision, and was not brought together at the last minute to assemble 1,312 feet of molded steel beams into the layered, leaning, and winding 118-foot structure that towered above this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. For nearly 20 years now, Judah has been designing and constructing the gigantic main sculpture for the legendary English automotive event hosted by the Earl of March on his estate in West Sussex.
Judah was born in Calcutta in 1951, where his grandparents had settled after leaving Baghdad. He spent his childhood in West Bengal until the age of ten, when he and his family moved to London. He left school at age 16 and worked at various jobs: in restaurants, as a porter, and as a draftsman. Later, he studied art at leading colleges in London, opened a studio in the city’s West End, and began creating large-scale sculptures and fabulous three-dimensional paintings. He financed his artwork by working for theaters, opera houses, film makers, and photographers. He has built sets for Ridley Scott, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and performers including The Who, Led Zeppelin, and Michael Jackson.
While working on backdrops for photo shoots in the 1980s, Judah met a gifted photographer named Charles Settrington. “My phone rang one day several years later and Lord March was on the line,” Judah recalls. Charles Settrington, who had since received his aristocratic title, asked Judah to build an enormous triumphal arch with a Ferrari hanging from it for the Festival of Speed on his estate. Time was of the essence, so Judah and his team climbed the scaffolding in wind and rain to bolt and paint the first sculpture in what would become a series of legendary large-scale works of automotive art at the annual Goodwood Festival.
The Goodwood sculptures—also known as the “central feature” of the festival—stand for just two or three weeks before being dismantled and scrapped. Year by year, they have become larger, more daring, and more sensational. Judah has mounted historic race cars on gigantic loops, and constructed a 92-foot sports car out of tubes that stood straight up on its nose. In 2013, his second contract for
The 911 ensemble was truly memorable. This led to the idea of erecting it on
The sculpture extends 39 feet down into the ground to firmly secure the three 911s positioned at the top of the pillars. The cars displayed are the first generation of 911 from 1970, a 1981 G model, and the new 991 II that was just unveiled at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt (IAA). All three cars are painted in white (or RAL 9002 to be exact): the lowest car sits 69 feet above the ground, the highest is 79 feet above ground. “It wouldn’t have made any sense to put them higher,” says Judah. “Because then they’d be out of sight for anyone driving by.”
By Therese Stelzner
Photos by Steffen Jahn