In September, I was invited north to Scotland for a couple of weeks salmon fishing and deer stalking. The chance to spend time in wild places and observe wildlife in its natural habitat was too good to turn down. The area around Islamouth on the River Tay is one of my favourite places, rich in fauna. It is where I observed river birds for my Dipper 2016 sculpture and one of the places that inspired my bronze Salmon 2012. I always have my camera on me, as you never know what you will see around the corner.
While we were fly fishing, I waded down river looking for otter. They are one of my favourite subjects and my Otter on a Rock, Otter Mother and Cubs and Otter Island were a joy to sculpt. Although I didn’t spot any, I did see spore and otter holts. I also saw a kingfisher and lots of evidence of beaver activity – stripped branches and gnawed wood. I would love to sculpt a beaver one day and I’m always looking out for them in the wild.
Much further north in the Highlands in the Reay Forest, I watched Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles. Getting out of my studio and into the wild is always inspirational for my work. It gives me a chance to immerse myself in the natural world.
The scenery was spectacular. Stalking deer in that environment and experiencing the conditions and the harsh terrain again, reminded me how well adapted these animals are to live in such remote places. It gives me a greater understanding of my wildlife subjects when I observe them in their natural habitat. You can read all about the making of my bronze deer sculptures on my blog too.
It also inspires new projects. We used stalking ponies to bring the stag carcasses down off the hills, as local communities have done for centuries. I think that one day, they would make a great study for a bronze sculpture.