Six bronze life and a quarter size horse sculptures by Hamish Mackie, commissioned by Berkeley Homes, for the main Piazza at Goodman’s Fields, London, E1 8GF.
‘Berkeley is all about place making. At Goodman’s Fields we had the opportunity to create a landmark that celebrates British craftsmanship as well as the history of the local community.’
In the 16th Century, the land was farmed by a Roland Goodman, whose son went on to let out the fields for the grazing of horses. Berkeley wanted to commemorate this historic link, by celebrating the horses which worked alongside people in London’s ascent to prosperity.
Berkeley’s vision for the Goodman’s Fields Piazza was that it should be a lasting symbol of the locality and the community. ‘This land has horses in its DNA and we wanted to highlight this.’
Once the design of the central piazza – with its dynamic flow – was conceived, the next piece of the puzzle was to find the perfect sculptor to bring the vision to life. Hamish Mackie won the design competition to create the Goodman’s Fields horses after forty sculptors were narrowed down to a shortlist of six.
Observation and wire horse frames
In all of Hamish Mackie’s works, there’s a narrative behind the movement depicted. And in the case of the Goodman’s Fields horses, this is the story. The six of them, normally harnessed to toil in the London streets, find their stable door accidentally left open. Suddenly they are wild horses again, running at full tilt, playfully bucking and rearing, tossing tails and hooves skywards. It’s a rare moment of – literally – unbridled freedom.
Hamish’s wildlife sculpture always stands out for its anatomical precision. But for these horses, his research and subsequent attention to detail went even further. They had to be real equine characters that would credibly have lived and worked in a livery stable. He chose six breeds of horse to illustrate the variety of horses from the past – Andalusian Stallion, Russian Cross Arab, European Warm Blood, Irish Cob, Thoroughbred Cross Shire and Thoroughbred.
Creation in clay and bronzing
An armature was made for each one, a skeleton of steel rods which support the heavy clay of the sculpture. In total, 1.5km of armature steel and 75kg of welding rod was used.
Hamish always selects a type of clay with little or no grit in it, which lends itself to incorporate the dynamic, gestural movements made by his fingertips. The horses required 6.5 tonnes of clay.
The clay was coated with silicone rubber to create a flexible mould supported by fibreglass. The mould was then hand painted with a thin layer of wax. A ceramic shell was applied to the wax model and fired in a kiln. The wax melted away, leaving a space for the molten bronze to be poured in. 1.2 tonnes of silicon rubber was applied in 1.2 million fingerfulls by 3 people over 7 months. 2.4 tonnes of ceramic shell were applied and 6 tonnes of bronze. This process is called Lost wax Casting.
The horses were each cast in 3 sections, which were welded together and then a patina applied using heat, blowtorches and chemicals requiring 4 tonnes of oil and gas. Their finished coat is a glorious rich tone that, when hit by the sun, brings the horses to life and reveals the astonishing skill of Mackie’s work.
Sculpture’s installation and launch event
In 2016, Hamish Mackie was awarded the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association’s Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Fountains for the Goodman’s Fields Horses commission.
Each life and a quarter size horse is available individually as a limited edition of six. Limited edition exact scale replicas can be found in the sculpture section. For further details please contact Hamish.