At Work

I am, predominantly, a portrait sculptor, so whether it be human, such as my life size sculpture of Lord Oaksey or animal, my job is to record and celebrate living form in the best way I can.

The first stage is to know my subject.  Photographs may assist but, by their nature, two dimensions can be a distraction when working three dimensionally.  I find quick pencil drawings a help in that they assist me in studying my subject intensely, forcing me to think about what I am looking at and recognising the gravity of what I am seeing.

With my subject fixed in my mind, I start to think (if I haven’t decided already), how best to portray my observations.  In the case of a horse, it may be standing, walking, jumping or whatever pace or stance I feel is most appropriate.  In addition, my client may also wish to add their own ideas, which can often be of great assistance.

Now loaded with all my thoughts and information, I am ready to physically start the sculpture.  Firstly, I make an armature (the bones or skeleton of the sculpture) to which I add clay.  At this point, I am in one of two places, either in my studio or with my subject, for, whenever possible, I do a proportion of the work from life.  In the case of a bust study, sittings will be necessary however, these need not be long and drawn out for the process now is natural and well prepared and much can also be achieved in the studio.  When making my study of Gold Cup winner, Denman, I was given free access to him so, as the weather was kind (he was turned out at the time), I was able to do at least half the work from life.  This enabled me to forge an understanding which I believe gives the finished work an “edge” it may otherwise not have.

In some cases, such as my posthumous study of Pinza and Sir Gordon Richards for the Derby Trophy 2003, working from life was, of course, impossible.  In such situations, I gauge the best archive and photographic material I can find and draw upon knowledge from people who knew, or have known the subjects, in this case, Sir Gordon’s daughter, Marjorie.

There is no specific time taken to create a study from scratch.  It may be a week or several weeks, whatever the case may be.  Once complete, I invite my client to view the progress I have made.  At this point changes, if necessary, can be made. When all parties are satisfied, the work is taken to the foundry to be cast into bronze using the ‘Cire Perdue’ (lost wax) method.  This requires great skill and, with the help of the most talented craftsmen in the foundry business, I oversee the process throughout, enabling me to achieve the very best result.