Last year was a busy one, but 2020 looks set to be even busier!
RHS Chelsea Flower Show, always a highlight in my year, was a triumph in 2019. We were awarded 5 stars for my exhibition stand. I love working with my generous sponsors Knight Frank and the brilliant team at Bowles & Wyer who design and build the stand. Their planting always looks amazing too and the overall effect creates a really eye-catching backdrop for my sculptures. It is a fun week, especially if the sun is shining like it was last year. It is great to see regular visitors, friends and passers-by taking an interest in my work and stopping by for a chat. I’m looking forward to 2020 which will be my tenth consecutive show. Why not come and say hello? It is between 19-23 May and we can be found at stand RHW/292.
I managed to squeeze in a couple of research trips – the first to Kenya, to my ‘second home’ at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. I first visited this special place in 1996 and that is where my sculpting started. Last year, I spent a week studying lion with the Predator Monitoring Team in Northern Kenya – the most incredible experience. I am really pleased to have made a series of lion sculptures including Lion Life Size and Lioness Life Size from that trip.
I also had the most fantastic visit to Rome which was so inspiring. We saw ancient art and architecture, fountains and ruins, as well as contemporary and modern pieces. It was a breath of fresh air to get out of my studio and to connect with the creative spirit that Rome embodies. As an artist, it is good to remember I am part of a long tradition. I can feel a bit isolated sometimes, sculpting alone in my workshop. Like my visit to Paris in 2018, these kind of research trips also help me to see what other artists are doing, to get a sense of artistic perspective.
I was thrilled that Sothebys chose my Andalusian Stallion for their year long exhibition in Dubai in 2019. It is one of my favourite pieces. The Andalusian has been exhibited at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, BlenheimPalace in Oxfordshire, Admiralty Arch in London and Royal Ascot. I am so pleased he has travelled even further afield now and people in the United Arab Emirates have got to see him too.
Of course, the big focus of 2020 is Life in Bronze, my solo exhibition at Mall Galleries in October. Running from Tues 13th – Sat 24th, it is a monumental task to get ready for it. We are busy sorting out the catalogue, collating all the text and photography, drafting the layout and arranging the printing. We have to organise the design of the gallery space and the moving of the sculptures. And we are planning our preview evenings in partnership with Private Cellar, Country Food Trust, Hampdens Bank and the charity Starlight, as well as Tusk Trust and the Northern Rangelands Trust. It is all systems go here!
I’m currently sculpting a squid in my studio, trying to get it finished so it can be cast at the foundry in time for the exhibition. I’ve also got plans to sculpt some new studies of the female form from life next month. There’s a world of difference between sculpting from a slightly smelly carcass from the freezer, sculpting from a life model in the studio, and sculpting in the African bush! The sculpting world is a slow burner – it can take up to four months to get a sculpture ready from starting the process to finishing the patination. Anything I want to include in the exhibition catalogue needs to be sculpted, cast, patinated and photographed by June, so I’m working at full-tilt.
There will be over 70 new sculptures on display in October, made since my last exhibition in 2016, as well as a few old favourites. I’m particularly pleased that my new monumental stainless steel Jurassic Cracked and Cretaceous Ammonite sculptures will be in the exhibition, showing off what we can achieve with the new tilt induction furnace at Lockbund Foundry. The theme of this solo exhibition will be a celebration of our relationship with the natural world – which sums up exactly what ‘Life in Bronze’ is all about. I’m really excited for this one and I hope you will come and see it at Mall Galleries, London, SW1. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list to receive one of the beautiful new catalogues when they come out in September, or just want to find out more about the show, go to my Contact Page.