BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Using a lot of time, love and care, artists have managed to save a sculpture that Hurricane Katrina shattered. Later today, the Peoples Bank will unveil a gargoyle that was part of the original bank building in Biloxi back in 1897.
The gargoyle arrived at a Saucier art studio broken in several pieces. Its wings and tongue were missing.
Bank managers hired Mary and Kenneth Davidson to basically put together a jigsaw puzzle. They started with no clear idea of what the final result was supposed to look like. So the husband and wife sculptors turned to the Internet.
"Couldn't find anything quite like it," Mary Davidson said. "Couldn't even find the material that he was made out of."
The Davidsons are experienced sculptors. They've worked on coast projects like the Bienville and D'Iberville statues. But, they say the gargoyle restoration challenged them like never before.
"We had to work in reverse because we had the exterior, but normally you always start with what you call the armature, or the interior," Mary Davidson said. "What's unique about him too is the extension of his body without support. That was, to me, the biggest challenge. Trying to get him back supported and all of that being done internally. Nothing external."
Special techniques helped to make sure the recreated portions of the gargoyle blended with its original 19th century artistry.
"I made all the wings out of clay. Did all the texturing by hand to give the wing effect and then came the big mold process. And then you take it out and then you have wings," Mary Davidson said.
After a year in their studio, the gargoyle's new home will be in the lobby of the main branch of the Peoples Bank.
"We are so pleased. Hallelujah. That's a good word that's for sure," said Davidson. "We are delighted to have him here, but we certainly look forward to having him back in the Peoples Bank."
On the eighth anniversary of the storm that ripped apart the gargoyle, the restored statue will be unveiled at a ceremony inside the Peoples Bank lobby in downtown Biloxi. That ceremony begins at 10:00 Thursday morning.