This year’s Solo Exhibition, hosted by Nicholas in his wonderful Eton Contemporary Fine Art Gallery along Eton High Street, includes a new direction of work for me. Most exciting are my two animal heads. The head of the animal is the keystone for conveying the emotion of the sculpture and it was a welcome release to be able to focus all energy on this. I made a massive stallion’s head which I mounted on five gnarly 19th century railroad ties. We have shaped every part of the world we inhabit and likewise we have shaped our most favourite animal to better suit our needs. With this in mind, I reinforced these relics from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution to carry the 80 kilo weight of the head.
The second bust I made is that of The Emperor Stag. This piece took a long time to complete; I experimented with numerous options for the base and looked far and wide for something that would complement the line of the head. It was a joyous moment when I found a large girthed curved trunk that rose up to meet the curl of the Emperor’s chest. Having finished the piece I measured him for the catalogue entry and realised that his antlers were 5cm too big to fit in Nicholas’ 18th century gallery!
Last year I was commissioned by a special client to make a Roe Buck, I spent quite a bit of time studying this animal and got caught up, as I often do, in its existence. It sounds a little wacky however you study an animal intensely, share its world for a while and you end up inhabiting this imaginary existence where you become the animal. From such day dreams came this cameo of two roe bucks beside the water’s edge sensing something foreign on the periphery of their vision.
Early 2016 I built a monumental sculpture of a family of Philippine Eagles for a 6D theatre in the Philippines and went on another odyssey through the life of this raptor. I am always looking for ways of conveying more speed and drama in my sculptures and Pinpoint, an eagle turning, is the result of one such search. The raptor is caught in time, its eyes locked on its prey as its body making a switchback turn towards the object of its focus.
On the opposite end of the adrenalin scale is Downtime Up Tree, an eagle perched on his branch taking a rest. The tree upon which he is sitting is actually made up of 6 different segments, all welded and bolted together to make a structural base for the 70kg of sculpture. This piece illustrates the challenges of displaying in Nicholas’ gallery. The floor to ceiling height is a little short of 215cm whereas I like going considerably higher, especially with a subject such as an eagle. The solution I came up with was to make two versions; the upper half of the tree sits on its own gallery base and can then connect in a seamless join with the lower part of the tree when the sculpture finally goes outdoors.
My personal favourite are my chimps. A young chimp picks nits from the head of his elder. Both pieces are mounted on 150kg of polished stone
The pieces will be on display at the gallery as of Wednesday 1st November and I will be at the gallery for the champagne reception on Remembrance Sunday from midday onwards. Anneka Rice will be opening the exhibit. Please do let Nicholas know if you would like to attend. Should you want to know the costs of any pieces on exhibit please visit the gallery website at www.cfag.co.uk/exhibition_thumbs.php