…Vittorino and I became marvellous friends. Each Sunday we spent in his house in Italian baronial style long lunches with lots of wine and good food and interesting people. It was here that the Shaka series began. I made a Shaka door for him first of all. He had this lovely door … it was a Gordon Leith house – he was chief assistant to Baker – and the house was on the ridge overlooking Orange Grove. Vittorino bought it and during its restoration there was this marvellous door with little insets – about fifty of them. And after one medieval banquet and flushed with good wine and good food he said: ‘I must get my friends to nail things on the panels.’ Meaning little artefacts and sculptures. I said: ‘No, that’s for me!’ So every time I made a little block on the history of the Zulu giant it was fixed very carefully into the door and then we drank a bottle of good French Beaujolais. And I think fifty bottles later there was a door.
That was probably the best door I’ll ever make. It was on a great theme. The size was right. Everything was running. It’s a huge single door, a sort of turn-of-the-century hobnailed, marvellous door and everything worked superbly well. And out of that all the influence of the Shaka episode actually grew. It was filled with innovation. The sort of thing which happens to an artist – whatever their field – now and again.
From an interview with James Ambrose Brown. You can read the full interview here (pdf).
View The assasination of Shaka portfolio here.