In 2017 I was asked to create a full sized farm horse for Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury.
This project was for a public art piece to celebrate the working horses of agricultural history. The museum is housed in an old farm and my sculpture has been named Punch after one of the horses that actually worked on the farm.
The sculpture is made of old tools and agricultural scrap so everything you see had a past history and use. I have been touched by how this sculpture has really captured the hearts of visitors and locals alike.
In 2012 I was commissioned to make a life sized Irish Moiled Cow for a museum in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. The sculpture is the biggest ‘found object’ sculpture that I have made to date and proved quite a challenge. Nicknamed Stanley due to the brand stamp on an old plane blade that I used on the forehead it used a serious amount of my stock of old tools and agricultural scrap.
Irish Moiled Cow
Some of the items that I particularly enjoyed placing were the adjustable spanners for teets, old scoop from a set of grocers scales and shovels for the udder and the auger bits for the tail. There are all kinds of blades within the work which seemed very appropriate as cows cut/eat so much grass. Among others there were sickles, scythes, mower blades, saw blades, a brushcutter blade, reciprocal blades from combine harvesters and sheers.
Irish Moiled Cow
The main bulk of the belly was made using the prongs from a very old hay tedder that may even have been a horse drawn one. A friend of a friend was dismantling it so my sharp eyed friend asked if he could give it to me. It proved utterly invaluable in depicting the cow and emphasizing the bulk of the body. Many people would have tried to fill in the body work but I think your eye does it for you. I often think of cows as being a giant hammock of belly slung between two points and the sculpture reflects that. The hint of the rib cage is portrayed with a pair of old beet forks. Rather than beet forks from east Anglia it would have been lovely to have used potato forks from Northern Ireland. I did look in to sourcing scrap from around Dungannon but it proved impractical. I hope to be able to make another piece for the museum in the future so making a smaller piece in a borrowed workshop on site would be a perfect way to do so.
Loading the Irish Moiled Cow
The sculpture had to get to Northern Ireland from Norfolk so I enlisted the help of friends who had access to an impressive and very new looking loader to get it into the hire van. I am so grateful to all my long suffering network of friends who come to my aid when these pieces need moving.
In 2012 I was invited to take part in The Big Egg Hunt. The event invited artists and designers to each decorate a large fibreglass egg which was then placed at various sites in London. Over 200 eggs made up the ‘hunt’ that encouraged the public to find the eggs and raise money for charity. It was all rather a rush to get the work done in time for the launch in February culminating in the finale in Easter when the eggs were then auctioned to raise funds for charity. It was nice to be involved with something that would be seen by such a large and wide ranging audience who would ‘stumble across’ the work rather than going to a gallery.
Inevitably there were a lot of references to birds by other participants so I decided to celebrate the less obvious creatures who emerge from an egg. The Treefrog and the Lizard are both hunting the unsuspecting cricket. I enjoyed the tension of the piece but it proved a real challenge to get the sculptures to follow the contour of the egg and then fix them onto it.
The organisers sited the eggs in various locations inside and out. They chose to place my piece outside and sadly within 3 days two of the sculptures had been stolen from my egg. A perspex box was placed over the egg to save the last sculpture but I had to make another two to replace the stolen works. It was a rather disappointing experience. I’m sure in future the perspex boxes will be used on all the more vulnerable works. It’s such a shame that the organisers have to worry about vandalism, in an ideal world work would be admired and not damaged.