This week I left the UK for a research trip to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. It is one of my favourite places, especially to research African animals. Once again I’m travelling with Steppes Travel, and staying with leading conservationists Ian and Jane Craig.
One of the things I do before going on a research trip is to put together my portable sculptor’s studio. The scale of my work is directly affected by this box. This is because all the armatures I have made up have to fit in it, so there are height and size restrictions.
Then there is the weight. Ideally it has to be under 26kg to meet the aeroplane luggage allowance. So everything I put inside the box has to be light! This has meant making a few adjustments. For example, some of my armatures / maquettes have polystyrene inside. They sit on perforated steel instead of a solid sheet, which shaves off a few pounds. I can get pretty nerdy about the details, but preparation now means I spend constructive time in front of wildlife later.
The box I have now is Mark II. The first one I took out to Kenya arrived in bits! Luckily, I had a handy roll of duct tape inside – I always try to be prepared for anything! I was able to strap the whole thing back together so that I could bring my original sculptures home. Mark II has survived some seriously extreme sculpting. It travelled from Antarctica to Namibia, Dubai, Kenya and the Varzuga River in Russia’s Kola Peninsula. It even floats!
En route, the box carries everything upside down. I bolt all the armatures onto the perforated steel sheet. They hang in there like bats in the dark until I see something I want to work on. When I want to get going on a sculpture, I take out an extendable steel pole. It tucks neatly inside the box until I attach it to the top. Then I unscrew one of the maquettes, stick it on the pole and viola! A portable sculptor’s studio!
Coming out of the box this time will be a collection of carefully selected animals, including buffalo, rhino and elephant. I will also take my Leica Trinovid 8 x 42 binos and two cameras. Firstly, a NikonD610 with a 500mm zoom lens and secondly, the new Leica V Lux 114.
And that’s all the basic kit that makes up my portable sculptor’s studio.