When we decided on Life in Bronze as the title for my solo exhibitions, it was obviously a reflection of my work as a wildlife sculptor. I literally cast life, what I see in the natural world, into bronze. However, Life in Bronze has come to mean more than that. When I think about my life, I realise that my connection with nature permeates everything I do.
I grew up on a cattle farm in Cornwall and very quickly developed a fascination with wildlife and the natural world. As a boy, I fell in love with a Limousin calf. I’d rush home from school to feed it and we followed each other around the farm. It was also my very first subject – I sculpted its head as a Christmas present for my father. It still hangs in my parents’ kitchen today.
I’ve been lucky with my work to travel all over the world to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Antartica, Australia and Africa. My field trips are a chance to really get in touch with nature. There’s something exciting about experiencing new environments. I’ve sculpted on ice caps, in jungles and in deserts and I still get a thrill from seeing the diversity of the natural world.
This connection with nature informs everything I do. Whether I’m sculpting an African elephant or a British badger, I need to visit whichever corner of the world they inhabit. When I see them in their natural environment, it helps me to understand their behaviour in context. It also helps to explain why they have evolved anatomically in they way that they have.
I’ve often said that you should be able to look wildlife sculpture in the eye and see life. That is always my aim when I am sculpting, to communicate more than just what an animal looks like. I want to evoke an emotional response, for people to feel a sense of its spirit, its story and perhaps something of the place in which it lives.
I have to admit that I am happiest when outdoors. Being in nature is a big part of my everyday life. At home, I’m in the garden whenever possible. It has been a labour of love! Since we first moved to the barn in Oxfordshire, I’ve planted over 500 trees. We’ve got a great little orchard and a huge vegetable plot. I’m very grateful that the land can help sustain our family and we make chutneys and pickles from surplus fruit and veg to keep us going. Living in the countryside means I get out on my bike or for a long walk most days.
Away from home, I often go back to the farm in Cornwall near the sea where my parents still live. My other great pleasure is visiting friends in Scotland where I can help on the land. I love getting out on the hills and moors to help with the deer or enjoy a spot of fishing.
I know how lucky I am to have lived in touch with nature my whole life. I hope that my exhibition, Life in Bronze, gives other people an opportunity to celebrate the natural world through my sculpture.
Life in Bronze will take place from October 13th-24th 2020 at Mall Galleries, London, SW1. For more information about the exhibition or to be put on the mailing list for the new catalogue, please contact Hamish.