Having finished the large clay study of Euston Malachite, my intention was to deliver it quickly to the foundry for moulding and casting, but the winter weather had other ideas! The storms were so dreadful at the end of that January that this was impossible.
As I contemplated which subject to sculpt next, the clay of Malachite, sat at the back of my studio, wrapped in polythene to stop it drying out, kept returning my thoughts to that time spent with him in Suffolk. How freely, how joyfully, he had moved around the field, in those moments of relaxation between our more formal photography sessions. This was something that I had only been able to hint at in my larger study; so I resolved to produce a smaller study of Euston Malachite, or, “Rocky”, as he is affectionately known, in more relaxed mood.Read more...
The emphasis for this new sculpture would be to try to capture that sense of movement, of freedom, of, “joy to be alive”, glimpsed in those less formal moments with Rocky.
For this smaller study I chose a soft wax, which on a small scale is very quick and easy to use, and much more stable than clay.
As always, my starting point was a wire armature, proportioned to closely match the subject’s own skeleton. Using photographs and memory I bent this into a pleasing pose, then rapidly began applying wax, to build up the main masses, and establish the flow and balance of the piece.
Whilst in Suffolk the previous summer, I had noticed how long and full Malachite’s mane and tail were, once his plaits were taken out; with beautiful soft curls – better than the efforts of the fanciest London salon! But I did not have much reference showing this. So I rang Simon Juby and asked if he could possibly take a few photos of Rocky with his hair down, to supplement those I already possessed [since the same storms preventing a trip to the foundry also precluded another visit to Suffolk]. I continued to work on Rocky’s head, body and legs whilst I waited for the photos to arrive, which they duly did, the following day. A further day working on Rocky’s flowing mane and tail completed the sculpture. The storms abated and both sculptures were delivered safely to the foundry.