Placing sculpture is one of the first things I consider when planning a new commission with a client. I always ask where the piece is ultimately going to end up. Placement and installation will often have a bearing on the composition. Some people buy a sculpture because they fall in love with it and then find the right spot for it. Other people know exactly where they want something to go, and then look for the perfect sculpture to fill the space.
Integrating sculpture into any interior or external space adds visual interest. It can also add dimension and movement, contrast and colour. Sometimes it can also bring an element of surprise.
The sculpture may be intended as a central focal point. However, with wildlife sculptures, I think it’s more interesting and less obvious to come across a sculpture ‘accidentally’. I particularly like seeing my pieces placed in a natural landscape. Some of my wild boar have found a home in France where they deter the real thing trampling through gardens!
When I was making my family of Roe deer, I envisioned them in a country garden. They have found homes all over the world and have been placed in long grasses and woodlands. I like to think of viewers stumbling upon them as they graze quietly under the trees.
Each location and setting will suggest different ideas. I really enjoy placing sculpture, choosing the right plinths and bases and advising clients how to display pieces to best effect. In 2017, I made a bronze pheasant for a very specific location. You can read all about the commission and the installation in this blog post: Bronze Pheasant Sculpture for the Cotswolds Distillery.
Bronze is a great material as it adapts brilliantly to most surroundings thanks to its subtly reflective surface. It is also robust, so ideal for both indoor and outside use. And because it is deeply tactile, it encourages the viewer to engage with the work. It is however quite heavy! This means that many of my larger pieces benefit from extra fixing.
They have threaded holes in the bottom and are secured with stainless steel rods into concrete or anchor resined into stone. All my sculptures can be permanently fixed in this way which also prevents them going walkabout. We will always work out a way to secure sculptures, whatever the location. For instance, my life size leopards ended up in all sorts of places. In a fountain, up a large cedar tree, on top of a wall and perched on a window sill!
I also really enjoy working on a collaborative brief together with a team. My Goodman’s Fields Horses was a huge project for a very specific space. It involved architects, developers, garden designers, concrete specialists, lighting and fountain engineers. The original planning was all done in drawings, a language I understand thanks to my degree in design.
I work with garden designers frequently, so together we ensure that when placing sculpture they complement the landscape. We confer over the materials we use and the planting, so that the overall effect is aesthetically harmonious. Most recently my Fallow deer were a bespoke commission for a garden I know well. I had already collaborated with the garden designers over my Roe deer who also have a home there.
Sometimes there is a location that is just crying out for a sculpture. For clients wanting to make a focal point, sculptures work well outdoors to draw the eye to particular features and spaces in the landscape. A spot by a stone wall in a garden was perfect for my Bull Head. My Swift makes a striking centrepiece for a driveway turning circle.
Bronze sculptures also enhance water features very well, reflecting the play of light on water beautifully. My Salmon looks spectacular placed in a lake, and the Otters are perfectly at home in a pond or running stream.
Lighting is an important consideration too, especially indoors. People often move their sculpture around to new places until they find exactly the spot where the light is best. With the right placement, sculptures in the house become like old friends. Some people like them to be in a central location where they can walk around them and see them every day. Others become part of the fabric of living. One of my clients uses his Stag sculpture to hang the dog leads on in the kitchen. Charles Saatchi uses the beak of my Penguin as a loo roll holder!
I take a lot of trouble when I photograph my sculptures to give potential clients a vision of where they might put them. There is a lot to think about when placing sculpture, but it is a very individual thing. If you are interested in commissioning a sculpture, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can chat it through.