Go Back Blog: 'The Unknown Miner' installed at the University of the Witwatersrand
Louis Wald

Unknown Miner finally in place

Following the preparation here 'The Unknown Miner' was installed at the entrance to the Engineering Faculty building at the the University of the Witwatersrand over the last few days.

From the trailer to the scaffold

Getting the work to the location was challenging. Because of basements in the area there were restrictions on getting a crane in close, so we had to rely on human lifting power.

The Miner had 2 dowels emerging from the bottom of each boot that needed to be epoxied through the granite slab into the concrete beneath.

The dowels that need to be epoxied in. Mike Cañadas, the bronze caster in the red shirt watches drilling.

Deciding exactly where the holes should be was not trivial. The thought was ever present that the sculpture was likely to be there for a long time - we needed to get it right. The figure stands on the centre line of the entrance but we knew that the figure was not perfectly symmetrical - the body twists, so the line joining the hands is not parallel to the one joining the boots. This twist is a feature of many of HW's works. It also reflects beautifully what the body does under load.

Some experimentation was required to find the best orientation. In the end the left foot was positioned about 11cm in front of the right.

Unknown Miner bound for 2 days while epoxy cures

The Unknown Miner was tied to the scaffolding for 2 days to ensure his position was maintained while the epoxy set. More than a few people thought that the scaffolding, sponge and rope were integral and indispensable parts of the work.

Four builders who helped carry the miner into position and Louis Wald alongside the work..

Initially it was decided to use a patina similar to that for 'Man and His Soul' for the miner. When Michael Wald and Mike Cañadas began the actual patina work they decided to substitute the darker variant. Happily this turned out to be an inspired choice. No one anticipated how dramatic the work would look when exiting the building, the dark bronze silhouetted against the sunlit trees. From here the work could be a tree charred by a forest fire..


The next sequence of photos give an idea of what thousands of students will see every day, crossing from the East to the West Campus. The figure slowly makes its presence felt.

Approaching the Miner from the East Campus

See here for the blog on the newspaper article in the Star about this work.

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Hekcvua good job. I sure appreciate it.