Making "Dino" (2013)

This was my first freestanding sculpture. It is a Brontosaurus skeleton made from anodized aluminum. It measures 7 meters long, 3,4 meters high and 1,27 meters wide and weighs about 350 kilos.

Placed at Andøya air station it consists of 144 pieces of 4mm and 10mm aluminum all connected with 1317 nuts and bolts, 114 angles and 606 spacers. I have not counted the hours of work this took me, but needless to say, it was a lot. To make it stronger I developed a way of tripling each shape with layers of 4mm aluminum. For example, each rib consists of three layers, one in the middle, and two equal pieces on each side. Each of the two sides is bolted to the middle one with spacers in between to add thickness and strength. This made it much stronger and visually bolder, not to mention lighter and cheaper than to simply make the shapes from thicker material.

This is not meant to be a real representation of the actual skeleton. It is a giant brontosaurus model, the kind made from thin plywood you buy as a kid in the dinosaur museum gift-shop. The idea was to bring to life that thing we dreamed about when we were young. In the same way that we made representations of birds by creating aircrafts, we made dinosaur models to dream of what once was. But I wanted to make it more than a toy; I wanted to bring it back to life.

This was a massive undertaking. It had been a dream of mine to make a dinosaur for a long time, and finally the opportunity came along. This assignment was for the military so I wanted this to be bold, mechanical and elegant. It was my choice to make a dinosaur, but of course they had to approve it, and thankfully they did.

I had all the pieces cut on a waterjet, after first drawing them very carefully in Illustrator. After that I sanded all the edges and most importantly, I placed every bolt perfectly in it place. I stud-welded all the 1317 bolts of different lengths and then packaged everything to be anodized. After that it was time to assemble.

I first put it all together in my garden, both to see that all the pieces fit as they should, and to get some great pictures. It’s not everyday I have a dinosaur hanging out in my backyard. I wanted to make sure there were no mistakes before sending it off for its final voyage.

On site I put it together in two days. Every one of those bolts had to be tightened and it all had to be in the correct order. The whole thing is fastened to a concrete foundation in five points, one for each foot, and one for the tail. The way I chose to bolt it down to the foundation meant there was an order in which I could place the pieces. I followed this order and saw it gradually take shape. In the end I had made a dinosaur come to life.