I’ve become known over the last 30 years for my life-like animal sculptures. Each is handmade in England and sculpted here in my studio in Wales. For me, my practice is not simply about capturing the animals I sculpt with marks and movement. It’s about our relationships with those animals and their welfare.
It’s wonderful always looking at and working with a subject that I love. I’ve sculpted since I was a child, and I’ve found throughout my life that expressing animals in clay is an evolving struggle of exploration and respect. I’ve lived with exotic birds, sheep, rescued fighting cockerels and snakes, and during my seven year apprenticeship worked with countless animals sculpted by my parents, sculptors Lorne McKean FRBS and Edwin Russell FRBS. Later, my love for animals led me to volunteer with Riverside Wildlife Hospital.
So although I’ve done many commissions of people, and even authored a book ‘Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure’, I’ve always intrinsically been an animal sculptor.
I’m always asking myself, how can I use my work to better the lives of animals? How can I support nature, natural habitats and welfare through my art? I raised £20,000 for Battersea Dogs and Cats home with my sculpture, and now my art raises awareness and money for the Dogs Trust, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, All Creatures Great and Small, and Doris Banham Dog Rescue.
I now live in Wales, on a farm called Moelfre. It’s named after the ‘bald hill’ it sits beneath, and it enjoys views over a lovely welsh valley and the Black Mountains.
I’m so lucky to have found it, not just for its beauty, but for its custom-built sculptor’s studio. Moelfre was once home to painter and animal sculptor Robert Clatworthy. He’s now sadly passed away, but I have him to thank for my perfect studio. It’s large, far larger than the small sitting room I used to do my sculpture in. I have space for very big commissions, and room for all the elements of the practice. Charles works in the workshop beside my studio to build my backirons, or in the office working with me to run the business. He’s even started writing in his spare time. My two beautiful dogs, Asha and Zena, are our constant companions around the farm.
Now I’m truly out in nature, I can spend all my time appreciating the things I love. I have the time to truly focus on my own work as an animal sculptor. And I’ve reconnected with the animals that have always formed the core reason for my making art. So it’s been a happy journey, and I look forward to what’s ahead!