“Shadow boxing” is not a term you would expect to hear from the head designer of one of The Park’s most innovative construction companies. Nevertheless, while pecking away at a sketch, Romulus Bowerbird insists on explaining the concept to me as it applies to the 2015 Groundhog Day prognostication pad:
I hope our work will be appreciated … that we will have contributed something valuable and memorable.— Nesthetics designer Romulus Bowerbird on the 2015 prognostication pad
“You have to make sure you don’t contain the shadow … box it in,” he says. “That can lead to an inaccurate prognostication which, as we have seen in the past, can cause ongoing problems. You have to let the shadow spread … the most important thing is to make sure that you allow it enough room to expand.”
As Bowerbird lays down his pencil, one can’t help but ponder the term’s other meaning: that of fighting against an invisible opponent. In this case, the opponent is Simply Structures, the firm that designed and constructed The Park’s prognostication pad for over a decade.
At first, Bowerbird demurs when asked the question.
“I do realize that we will be judged not only on our own product, but by comparison with the products of previous years,” he says matter-of-factly.
Then, as he lets his guard down, you can see the source of the “Groundhog Day nerves” he mentions often during the interview.
“I believe we won the contract on merit. I also believe it was time to inject some new blood into the celebrations. I hope our work will be appreciated and that, in the end, we will have contributed something valuable and memorable to what is undeniably one of the most important events in The Park,” he says.
But Bowerbird admits that the past decade is a tough act to follow.
“The experience alone is invaluable,” he says in an admiring tone. “Seeing what works and what doesn’t, in a practical way. Years of going back to the drawing board, years of attempting to outdo yourself … the value of that can’t be underestimated, both in knowledge and creativity.”
Still, Bowerbird was the first at his company to suggest that they bid for the job.
“As I said, new blood. And we have a different sensibility here. Less down to earth … more ethereal. And we’ve chosen a mix of bright, celebratory colours. We tried very hard to maintain the sense of the occasion while injecting a sense of occasion, if you know what I mean. A nod to tradition, and then a pop of surprise,” he says, with a wink.
And those Groundhog Day nerves?
“I haven’t slept for the past month, but I’m sure it will be worth it in the end.”