Rock Partridge

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This piece was a commission for a gift for a family member with a house in France named after the bird. It was quite an undertaking to create a piece in sheet steel on such a relatively small scale.

Rock Partridge

The problem with birds is that often a great deal of their recognisable features is in the plumage colours. I do not paint my sculptures so I have to be quite creative to refer to patterns and colours when using steel. For this piece I used the grille from an old white transit van bonnet to suggest the barring on the chest. in order to get a good dark stripe I had to create a space behind the grille to give the depth of shadow. It worked out quite well. In addition when working with painted steel you have to take care to ensure that the welds are kept to a minimum or the paint burns off.

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An example of a sculpture on which I made use of colour is the Southern Ground Hornbill. This piece was made with scrap items that had already got red paint on them (spanners, pliers and a spokeshave) so provided the striking red pouch on the bird.

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Southern Ground Hornbill

 

Bantam Cockerel

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Bantam Cockerel

A client commissioned me to make a sculpture of her feisty bantam cockerel. He was a bit of a character apparently and I hope that I have captured something of his attitude in this piece. A circular saw blade is used for the comb and auger bits, heated in my pot bellied stove then bent, add to the tail feathers alongside callipers and a builder’s trowel.

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Bantam Cockerel

Living on the Edge

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Bilhook Badger

I made this piece for an exhibition in Stamford called ‘Living on the Edge’ that was a spin off from the New Networks for Nature symposium. The remit of the show was to make work in response to the title. It was a thought provoking show and I made Dog Chain Bittern, Tweezer Nosed Frog, a Roesel’s Bush Cricket and Bilhook Badger.

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Dog Chain Bittern

Dog Chain Bittern alluded to the success of conservation efforts to help a particular species by setting up reserves.

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Tweezer Nosed Frog

The Tweezer Nosed Frog was a reference to how the world has got smaller so that wildlife can be exposed to non native flora and fauna and indeed viruses, in this case the choroid virus that has spread through amphibians and is cited as the cause of extinction of at least one South American frog species.

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Roesel's Bush Cricket

The Roesel’s Bush cricket is extending its range in the UK possibly through global warming and by making use of roadside verges.

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Bilhook Badger

A badger was an obvious choice as being a mammal in the news due to the TB crisis and an example of a species that is at the centre of a massive controversy involving Government, the farming industry, conservation organisations and the public.

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Bilhook Badger

I made a special effort to use plenty of digging tools in the piece as I enjoyed the fact that badgers are honed digging machines.

The Natural Eye, Art Book One

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This limited edition hardback book is packed with images from nearly 60 of our artists. With an introduction by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, a short history of the Society by past President and founder Robert Gillmor, plus text by current President Harriet Mead about the Society in its 50th year and Bruce Pearson looking to the future, this is both a beautiful and informative book. With field sketches, drawings, original prints, oils, acrylics, mixed media, bronzes, ceramics and found object sculpture there are gems on every page. Each of the contributing artists have written short anecdotes about the work that they have donated and funds from the sale of the book will help the Society to encourage and support artists inspired by the natural world through the SWLA Bursaries and other opportunities.

‘What a handsome and impressive compilation it is! I am truly delighted to have it on my shelves.’ Sir David Attenborough

BBC Wildlife Magazine’s ‘Book of the Month’.

‘A hugely impressive treasury of fine art inspired by the natural world’ Jonathan Elphick, writer and naturalist 

‘Anyone who buys this book will love it if they have the faintest feeling for wildlife’  Mark Avery, writer, naturalist and environmental consultant

‘A whole world of wildlife is brought into the room with you, brimming with the essence of each subject, telling stories, and setting up wonder in our enquiring minds’ Andy Clements, Director of the British Trust for Ornithology 

At only £20 plus p&p it makes an affordable and desirable addition to any art or wildlife lovers bookshelf.

AVAILABLE FROM SWLA WEBSITE

Hammer Horned Giraffe

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Hammer Horned Giraffe

Here is my second giraffe of the year, Hammer Horned Giraffe. If you look at my post about Hedge Trimmer Giraffe you will know that I started a commission for a 4ft 6 giraffe that rapidly became too big. I put this one aside and made a correctly sized one for my client with the intention of finishing the large one for The Natural Eye, the annual exhibition of the SWLA at the Mall Galleries from 30th October- 10th November.

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Hammer Horned Giraffe

It took an awful lot of work and I was welding right up to the last minute to get the piece ready in time but I am happy with the result.

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Hammer Horned Giraffe

The bulk of the frame is made up of bow saws and long handles from edging shears and other gardening tools. The lower jaw is made of sheep shears and pliers handles plus old mortar trowels for the ears alongside the hammer heads for the horns. All the patterns are made up of blades from combines or other harvesting machines. The tail is made of auger bits.

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Hammer Horned Giraffe

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Hammer Horned Giraffe

Sole Great Auk

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Sole Great Auk

I was commissioned to make a life sized Great Auk for a client. I had to look on the internet for pictures of stuffed specimens and found biometrics on line as well. The specimens were very reliant on the skills of the taxidermist so I ended up basing my version of a Great Auk on an oversized Guillemot for the eye position and general feel of the bird.

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Sole Great Auk

I tried to capture the essence of the bird and was really pleased with the find of a ‘tramp’ or metal sole in my scrap pile. Designed to protect the base of the foot the ‘tramp’ was attached by a strap to the boot and used when doing a lot of digging I believe. The ‘tramp’ forms the back of the bird and allowed me to use a quality pun in the title of the piece ‘Sole Great Auk’.

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Sole Great Auk

I think it came out surprisingly well considering I had such variable reference and the bird itself is rather ungainly. The ridges on the beak were defined by the use of an old drawer handle and secateurs made up the bulk of the bill.

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Sole Great Auk

Ring Spanner Frog

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Ring Spanner Frog

Last week I completed the 4ft 6 inches high Hedge-Trimmer Giraffe that took many weeks and lots of scrap. Here’s Ring Spanner Frog which at 6 inches long was a much smaller proposition but it still took very careful work to achieve the ‘essence’ of frog. Small scale pieces are very unforgiving; the wrong item can ruin the sculpture as there are fewer components to suggest the anatomy. In addition it is quite tricky to weld on a small scale as the welds can be too big and thin items can melt away.

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Ring Spanner Frog

The eye sockets are made of ring spanners with ball bearings for eyes and the legs are handles of pliers and links from chains with screws and horseshoe nails for the toes. I particularly like the bit of bicycle spanner and a bottle opener that give the trademark froggy hunched back.

Hedge-trimmer Giraffe

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Hedge-trimmer Giraffe

This piece is a commission that I completed for a client who has several of my pieces. At only 4ft 6  high it is not life sized but is still quite substantial.  I used bow saws as a good basis for the neck and a large car spring as a rib cage. The pattern of the markings are depicted using blades from a combine harvester. Giraffes have an extraordinary structure and I was particularly struck by their shoulder blade and angular chest. I used a couple of G-clamps for the top of the shoulder and a garden fork for the chest. At times I felt unconvinced by the bizarre proportions but as it progressed my instincts were right and the piece came together.

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Hedge-trimmer Giraffe

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Hedge-trimmer Giraffe (detail)

The lovely long eye lashes are bow saw blade and the ears are part of secateurs and chainsaw blade for the fluffy inside. There are a lot of long spanners, strap hinges and horse shoes in the piece to create a strong structure.

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Hedge-trimmer Giraffe

Sickle blades and parts of bow saws create the barrel of the body with a very sturdy strap hinge along the spine. The tail is part of a poker and tines from a pitchfork with auger bits as the fluffy hair on the end. At first I was reluctant to add the patterning on the body and neck as it interrupted the flow of the structure and covered some of the detail but on balance I’m happy with the blades as they suggest the distinctive colouration without being too fussy.

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Hedge-trimmer Giraffe

Living Seas Exhibition

The Wildlife Trusts Undersea Art Award was set up in 2007 thanks to the vision of Peter Tinsley from Dorset WT. Since then 5 artists have been given the opportunity to learn to dive and then make work from the experience of diving off the UK coast. I was lucky enough to be the latest recipient of the award and I had an amazing time seeing marine life up close and in their element off the North Norfolk coast. See my blog about the bursary here.

To celebrate the Undersea Art Award and help highlight the need for Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to be designated examples of work from all five artists (Kim Atkinson, Antonia Philips, Anna Kirk-Smith, Esther Tyson and me) is on show at Chesil Beach in Dorset until March 27th. Click here for more information.

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Sawblade Goby

PLEASE DO YOUR BIT TO HELP THE MARINE HABITAT OFF OUR COASTS

127 MCZs were recommended by the stakeholder groups, supported by the MCZ Science Advisory Panel and Natural England, the Government nature conservation advisors. The Government’s current public consultation is proposing to designate this year just 31 of the 127, and it gives no real commitment to designating the remainder. We need a whole network of protected areas as nursery beds for fish and other marine life and 31 sites does not make a network.

The consultation closes at midnight on Easter Sunday, 31st March.
It is easy to respond as the Wildlife Trusts have produced a simple click-and-send campaign response. Click here to support the MCZs.