Getting the call from Dan Szor to commission a bronze pheasant sculpture, was really exciting. Dan is the founder of the Cotswolds Distillery and we met four years ago when he was just starting up his innovative company. We bonded over a love of good whisky and a passion for our local area and I was impressed by his vision. Dan wanted to create a premium whisky, produced from ingredients grown in the Cotswolds, and distilled on his premises at Stourton near Shipston-on-Stour. We chatted about his plans and his choice of a pheasant as the company’s logo. We both agreed it would make a great bronze sculpture and Dan suggested that one day he might commission me to make it.
Three years later, he got in touch again. The Cotswolds Distillery had received wide acclaim for their Cotswold Dry Gin and other spirits and was about to launch their first Cotswolds Single Malt whisky, which takes three years and a day to mature. Dan wanted the bronze pheasant as a birthday present to the company to coincide with the launch. Time was short, but I had put a pheasant in the freezer when we first discussed the idea – in the hope of one day getting the call! – so I was able to get started right away.
The logo itself is of a plucky, jaunty bird, in classic crowing posture – beak open, wings outstretched. It’s a great emblem for a startup company who proudly proclaim their aim to make Outstanding Natural Spirits, and although they are serious about what they do, it is with a healthy dose of wry humour – and that’s what I wanted to convey in this sculpture. Pheasants are a common sight wandering the woodlands and fields of the countryside, so it also embodies the company’s commitment to the local rural community. To tie it all together, my sculpture stands on a bronze base of flattened malting barley.
Sculpting the logo into bronze meant I didn’t have to design the composition as such, but we did have questions of scale and height to consider. I made the pheasant sculpture slightly larger than life size, as Dan wanted it to stand as a centrepiece in the landscaped garden at the front of his headquarters and shop. It is going to be visible to the 30,000 guests that visit the distillery each year, as well as the team who work there every day, so its orientation was also important.
For the plinth, I contacted the stonemason Rob Goode at Goode Stone Supplies Ltd in Hook Norton, whom I have collaborated with on many projects and who always delivers the highest quality work. I chose a beautiful piece of Hornton Blue stone which perfectly complements the grey shale and natural tones of the garden, the mellow Cotswold stone of the building, and the earthy coppery patina of the bronze pheasant.
We installed Phaust (as the pheasant has become affectionately known) just in time for the Cotswolds Single Malt investor’s launch last week. Doesn’t he look great? If you’d like to see him in person, he will be the ‘guest of honour’ at the Cotswolds Distillery Whisky Harvest Festival on October 7th.
Dan Szor had this to say about their new bronze pheasant sculpture:
“Working with Hamish was very easy, it just seemed meant to be. I suppose I took a leap of faith when I commissioned him, but the sculpture has turned out beyond my wildest dreams. It looks like it has always been there. He’s captured the bird’s jauntiness and the slightly rough, rural feel that I wanted, in the texture of the bird’s plumage and the muscularity that shows beneath. Unveiling the sculpture at the investor’s launch was also an unveiling of Hamish’s incredible talent.”
It was great to be involved in a project that brought together so many of my interests – field sports, supporting local enterprise, and the consumption of good whisky!
Hamish’s bronze sculpture Pheasant -2017 is available as a numbered edition of 12.