Jack Sachs creates a series of giant smile-inducing statues for Chengdu

Enlisted to promote some positivity as the city came out of lockdown, the artist has made a series of characters injecting absolute joy.

24 April 2020

Over in Berlin the joyful and ever-expanding mind of Jack Sachs has been tapped up to create a series of giant sculptures promoting a feeling of positivity in Chengdu, China. Made as the city’s population begins to head out of lockdown, the four-metre-tall fibreglass sculptures are the result of smile-inducing character building by Jack, and have been made into AR versions as well.

It was back in February now that Jack was first contacted by Sensing Art Lab in Beijing about creating “an interactive installation which could promote some positivity and warmth in Chengdu,” Jack tells us, “a city like many others in China, that has been dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and was projected to be coming out of the worst of it around this time.” Although two months from brief to live sculpture is maybe one of the quickest turnarounds we’ve heard about, in a time where the world certainly needs more projects made with the only aim of providing joy, we’re very happy Jack said yes. “I was really excited by the idea of designing some huge sculptures,” he says, “and the intentions on the project are really nice so I was keen from the start!”

Initially the characters were first imagined to contain alternative “magical healing abilities and backstories,” Jack explains. “In the end, we went in a different direction that’s not directly health-related and instead opted for some more general, lighthearted ideas.” As a result each character – whether it’s a giant grinning heart or a carrot popping out the ground – is themed “around something which people can look forward to now that restrictions are being eased up, like human connection, travel or the outdoors,” Jack explains. With themes settled upon, Jack had a weekend to draw as many designs as possible (as seen below) selected to then be built upon. “There was hardly any feedback or amendments in the design phase so the characters ended up pretty identical to my initial sketches, which is a first!”

GalleryJack Sachs: Chengdu Sculpture Sketches

From these sketches Jack then began to make renders showing how each would appear in 3D, and grew fond of certain characters too. “I’m super happy with how they all came out, but I think my favourite sculpture is the heart, but also the dice which is four metres tall and required a crane to install,” he says. When the sculptures move into their third stage however – in AR clips where “none of it would have been possible without the insane expertise of Ricky Calvit Jonsson JR” – other details have come to life, switching Jack’s favourites to the blue cat and self-described “earth guys”.

Working with Ricky has also been what sounds like a career highlight for Jack, describing him as “a seasoned pro when it comes to character rigging in AR,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I invited him to join the project as it was clear we needed his talents. It has been so fun working with him at the moment!” It additionally sounds like a refreshing piece of work to draw Jack’s attention to during this understandably difficult and daunting period. “This job has been a really great distraction from all of the chaos outside and has kept me really busy. It’s definitely been a plus to work on something upbeat.” Working on the project form Berlin, while Ricky is in the US and the rest of the team in China, Jack also had to battle against different time zones, “but once we got into the flow of it, it worked pretty well and it felt nice to be working with people all over the world,” says Jack.

The final sculptures can now be seen on the roof and entrance of the IFS, Chengdu until 17 May. The AR versions of the sculptures are available for those of you who may have WeChat if you follow the IFS, but Jack is hoping to be able to share with wider audiences soon. For now, that giant heart is enough to cheer us up!

GalleryJack Sachs: Chengdu Sculptures

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.


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