THE WORK BEGINS: Dan Davies cuts into the marble block which will become a memorial to Gympie jockey Desiree Gill.
THE WORK BEGINS: Dan Davies cuts into the marble block which will become a memorial to Gympie jockey Desiree Gill. Renee Pilcher

Work begins on Desiree Gill sculpture

DAN Davies freely admits that his sort of work was a lot harder in Michelangelo's day.

Mr Davies has just started the hard carving that will eventually turn a plain block of marble into a likeness of the late Gympie jockey, Desiree Gill.

Mrs Gill died in a race fall last November.

Gympie Regional Council on Wednesday gave its approval for a memorial to Mrs Gill to be placed in the mounting yard at Gympie racecourse.

The internationally awarded Chatsworth blacksmith, famous for his work with steel, says the change to marble as his material is not as hard as it might seem.

The challenge is the same one faced by all sculptors through history, to make a three-dimensional likeness from two-dimensional drawings and photographs.

"To me this is one of the hardest ones I've ever done, to make a likeness of someone you've never met.

"And it's got to be a good likeness."

Davies also has a mannequin as a model, dressed in Mrs Gill's racing silks and helmet.

"These are what they gave me," he says. "It lets me see how the fabric falls."

There is a rough sketch on one face of the marble block.

"You start with the face," he said. And you allow some extra, so you can move it back if you need to fix any flaws."

Unlike steel, where you can weld another section into place, you can only cut into marble and there is little room for error.

"Michelangelo had one statue where the marble block left no room for error.

"He only got one crack at it and a lot of other sculptors knocked it back, because they weren't sure they could get what they needed out of the block."

But although he has never met Mrs Gill, Mr Davies does know something of the dangers she faced.

"I used to help load the barriers in Mackay and I used to see all the injuries, just in the barriers.

"Don't you go mentioning my name in the same sentence as Michelangelo though," Mr Davies said.