Making Bronze Swifts Sculpture for the Dyson Cancer Centre at RUH, Bath
December 5, 2022

When I was asked to create a sculpture for the new Dyson Cancer Centre at Royal United Hospitals Bath, swifts seemed the perfect subject. The project was made possible by the generosity of an anonymous private donor whose wife lost her life to cancer. We wanted to create a sculpture that would celebrate her life, and those of all the other patients at the Dyson Center. A pair of swifts dancing in the sky seemed to hit exactly the right note.

 

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Swifts are such incredible birds. They spend most of their life on the wing, migrating 3,400 miles twice a year. They rarely touch the ground, sleeping, eating, and even mating in the air. Superb flyers, they can reach an impressive top speed of 69mph. Their arrival in this country from Africa in May each year, heralds the start of the British summer.

To make the Swifts 2022 sculpture, I first created an armature designed to come apart, allowing me to work on the swifts individually from all angles. Then I sculpted the original in plasticine. Cast into bronze, the finished sculpture depicts a larger than life size pair of swifts in flight, mounted on a limestone plinth. It will form a focal point for the open air first floor courtyard at the new Dyson Cancer Centre.

I am used to working on site specific sculptures, often with a team of architects, engineers, lighting specialists and landscape designers. The Dyson Centre has been designed around a land, water and sky theme which incorporates natural light, external spaces, greenery and artwork.

All these elements are known to have a positive effect on healing and overall patient experience. It was great to contribute through my art to this amazing purpose built centre. It will open in the autumn of 2023 to provide a cancer services hub for half a million people in the South West.

The understanding of the swifts’ long journey to Britain every year and the happiness we feel when they arrive, makes them the ultimate symbol of joy and hope. With this sculpture I wanted to convey a sense of freedom, of thermals and high-speed flight paths. I hope I’ve captured the aerodynamic and fast moving nature of these beautiful birds.

The bronze sculpture Swifts 2022 will soon be out of the foundry and available for sale.

Making Swifts 2022

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