Is driftwood flotsam or jetsam?

Heather Jansch and horses


 



Most people ask the same questions about my sculpture. . . 


If you have any not answered here you can email direct 



Interview:  Answering questions... the creative process click here



Where do you find driftwood , do you do much carving? Where can I buy your sculpture? Do you make other animal sculptures? Have you ever made a Pegasus or a Unicorn?


Diftwood  comes from the Devon coast but has become scatrce since it became fashionable . Local estates supply oak from their woodlands and people bring wood they think might interest me. I do very little carving. 


Subjects include stags and hinds, elephants, pigs & dogs.  There are also driftwood wall sculpture or bas-reliefs of  Pegasus. you can view it on the small works page. There is also a series of dancers.


There are a lot of artists copying you now, what can you do about it? Did you make The Eden Project Horse? 






There will always be copyists. Nothing can be done about it but if you look closely,will you see the differences or similarities between different sculptors. Driftwood sculpture sells well, usually the price reflects the quality. and it is the quality that concerns me not how long they take - some have taken five years.  Experiment is the only way to keep the work fresh and original.  The Eden Project Horse is one of mine.


bronze detail bismuth patination. 












What contemporary horse sculptors do you like or admire?


Nic Fiddian-Green is world famous for his awe inspiring monumental horse heads. I met him in the late 90‘s at a foundry in Basingstoke and discovered that we had both been so forcibly struck by the Selene horse head from the Parthenon at The British Museum, that the horse has remained at the very heart of our separate sculptural disciplines. 

Whatever the scale of his work, it is immediately obvious that one is looking at the work of a master, an artist with a powerful perception that will span the ages. My own horse heads are as much a salute to Nic Fiddian-Green’s sculpture as to the unknown sculptor of the original horse head that inspired us both. He is another artist for whom drawing remains a vital part of his working discipline. 


In your equestrian sculpture what are the hooves made from, do you use horse shoes?

How do you fix the wood together ? Do you do other animals? Do you paint?

The hooves are made from recycled copper and sometimes lead, they may be supported by real horse shoes. 


The wood is fixed by whatever method works. Each sculpture is different.  Problem solving is part of the fascination in this way of working. Larger sculptures have a simple steel frame (an armature) coated with fibreglass to give a roughened surface to stop the wood from slipping until it is tied in place with wire before being screwed together with stainless steel screws. The screw heads are then covered with filler and stain.


I started as a painter specialising in traditional portraits of horses. They are animals that I find endlessly fascinating, I still draw and paint some are available as limited edition prints.


I would like a driftwood equine sculpture for my yard, can they go outside and how long do they last?

Driftwood sculpture is unsuitable for exterior display because it will not last more than a few years. Using a waterproof New Zealand horse rug can help and if sculptures are put undercover for the worst winter moths they will last better. I have some twelve years old still in sound condition whereas others have not survived well and have needed restoraition. 


By contrast Bronze will last perfectly outside for many centuries.


My life-size pieces for the landscape are made from heart of oak which is a very dense and long lasting wood. They are treated with preservative to prevent insect attack.I cannot say exactly how long they will last but seasoned oak is iron hard as any builder knows.  The problem lies with the fixings, all wood will expand and contract with changes in humidity and this will eventually loosen the fixings.  The problem is exacerbated by frost or snow so The Botanic Gardens of Montreal take my oak mare and foal sculpture inside for the winter months. 



The mare and foal 'Oddessy and Hope'  freshly installed in The Botanical Gardens of Montreal in June 2013


Where did you get the idea to make driftwood art? Was it from seeing War Horse? Your work reminds me of the puppets. What is the biggest horse head you have ever made ?
I live close to the coast and driftwood always fascinated me. I started making driftwood horses over thirty years ago, long before the stage production of war horse. Like most artistic ideas it came out of the blue and was an accident. The biggest horse head I have made so far is a monumental horse's head called 'Fable' which stands about twenty feet tall you can see images of it in the sculpture garden section of this website. 
Do you ever make anything you don’t want to sell?

Yes.  I have the luxury of being able to choose what I sell and what I keep. One of my favourites was a painted driftwood bas-relief of Pegasus; the famous mythical flying horse  I kept the original but made several others all of which "flew straight off the wall"   I also love to make large horse heads, it is an opportunity to see the animal in a diferent way.  I used a Pegasus for one of the later Bert Jansch Album covers "Sketches." The drawings for his album Moonshine were my favourites although I also enjoyed designing the cover for Birthday Blues and Rosemary Lane.


Who buys your sculpture, how much does it cost and do you sell  drift wood art online? Is it always bespoke sculpture?



It is hard to say who buys artwork; it sells world-wide, clients come from many different cultures, what they share is an interest in contemporary art. Clients will buy all sizes from small bronze horses for interiors to monumental sculptures as gifts. Museums and Botancial gardens also purchase or commission sculpture.


There is a long tradition of sculpture and statues in large estates, and almost every European town has significant monumental statuary in the form of bronze equestrian horses.  


Increasingly there is interest in 3D art from both corporate and private collectors world wide. Hotel complexes commission contemporary sculpture for interiors and there is a demand from restaurants for wall reliefs. The majority buy original sculpture online. without seeing the originals. Hard to believe.


It is really only the wealthy who can buy or commission bespoke items, most clients demand absolute privacy and discretion. Prices are not published.


It is important that there is free access to artwork so the sculpture garden opens to the public each autumn see News & Open Days There is no charge. 


Even in wet weather the average visit is about three hours. There is plenty for kids to do from treasure trails to lucky dips and wild swings out over the water.  Visitors can buy things from as little as fifty pence for a postcard, twenty pounds buys a signed copy of Heather Jansch's Diary, which makes a perfect gift for people of any age. Prints and original drawings are also available, there is no pressure to buy anything at all.


Do you make any else apart from horses, do you make other garden or yard art?

Yes. Site-specific constructions and installations. Landscape design and artworks usually have both an aesthetic aspect and a function. 


site-specific garden sculpture coffee root and log wall in devon.


Raw cork has an interesting texture, I used it for the pigs at The Eden Project for the Cork Oak exhibit in the Mediterranean biome. I despise waste and will always look to see how things can be reused before thinking about buying new except for tools. As a result my sculpture garden is now featured in the National Gardens Scheme YELLOW BOOK. I have become known for making sustainable art! I make paths from bits of material collected from various parts of the world set in a random geometric pattern, they become memory pathways. the place


Do you fit the idea to the material or the material to the idea?

Both at different times.  Sculpture is about problem solving. Working with what there is to hand generally means finding recycled materials and that comes very naturally. 


Do you make small model horses to start with or do you start with drawings of horses?

Both yes and no, depending on the material. Small models are sculptures in themselves. They are commonly referred to as maquettes.  In some cases I prefer to let sculpture grow organically, in others I may follow a drawing to some degree. When I am working with an idea to cast in bronze I tend to do more working drawings. I still like to draw, it is the best way to see clearly and understand form. As a child I always had a pencil in my hands and aged about ten was given the notebooks and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci who immediately became my biggest hero, I was fascinated by all his drawings and sketches, they seem as fresh today as when he made them.


What materials do you like working with most, bronze or wood? How do you make a bronze from a driftwood sculpture? What is a driftwood bronze made from exactly?

My best work often comes when my creativity is stretched. New challenges, experiments, possibilities and ideas are what keep me alive and I will use whatever material I can find that is interesting. For information on the bronze casting process go to bronze casting


Why did you decide to become an equine artist and how old were you?

Love of horses and about three years old. My favourite book was Black Beauty and I loved the drawings in The Jungle Book. I went on to study equines in every way that I could, drawings horses in the fields every day and reading every book about horses I could find, their behaviour, their ailments. Different breeds and where they come from fascinate me. 


What inspires you? What aspects of the world around you influence your art?

The fact that I am still alive and human on this planet is what influences me. At different times I respond differently according to mood, season, location, dream, opportunity, available material, interaction with others, world events...... the list is endless and ever changing. 


How long does it take you to make a horse sculpture. How can I learn to do it?

How long is a piece of string? Usually there are several pieces on the go at the same time. so if I get stuck on one I can work on another and often that is how I find the solution to the problem. I have had some that have taken three years and others that have only taken a month but I do not log the time, it is not what interests me, what interests me is how well I make them.


Learn by experiment. 


 

Do you use symbols in your work?

 








 

 

 

 


Can you see any?


 

Would you say that your driftwood horses embody the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sab

 

It is not for me to make such a claim but it is an interesting question and I am delighted that my sculpture prompted you to ask it.  The concept of wabi sabi is profound and can be life changing; I encountered it first hand when staying with the celebrated Japanese potter Takasi Yasuda and his then wife Sandy Brown and in the early 1980‘s. For those unfamiliar with wabi sabi there is a brief description on wikipedia.



Do you ever lease any of your sculptures or other artworks? 

Yes occasisionally for special occasions, like weddings or other events. The large heads have a theatrical presence and draw big crowds. Usually it is originals that are used, in part because they are easier to manouvere and transport; often access can be restricted making the installation of bronzes impracticable.
  
Does your artwork contain a significant message that relates back to the world of modern society?

Artists have no control over what others see in their work because everyone will interpret it differently according to their age, experience, belief system or culture. They will also interpret anything said or written about it according to their own predjudices. 

Do you create your artworks to evoke a positive reaction from the audience or do you try to challenge their beliefs?

NEITHER.The moment an artist becomes concerned about how others might react, they have lost their way and the artwork is in grave danger of dilution or corruption.  

Do you imagine that Picasso,Robert Graves , Leonard Cohen, Miles Davies or Beethoven, to name but a few, worried about what others thought or tried to influence their thinking?


How does the audience respond or interact with your works?

Everyone is different. How do you respond?  It is not uncommon for people to be moved to tears. In reponse we made a medicinal herb garden with undercover seating ovelooking a pool. It provides a tranquil space for reflection and for them to recover their composure. Some people respond by making driftwood sculpture. Some are emboldened to change their career, others choose to move house and some buy themselves a horse and start to ride, some write poetry............... 






I can tell you can draw. Your work has the gestural ability of our Deborah Butterfield in the States.  What do your equines go for?
 
Original sculptures are sold world wide each piece is individually priced according to size and complexity. 
 


 
  Among the “art elite”, is your work considered fine art or fine craft?  
 

I can’t say.  I am sure some dismiss it as popularist and one-dimensional, some will consider it craft and others will laud it.  Three of my life-size driftwood sculptures were chosen to feature in The Shape of The Century - 100 Years of Sculpture in Britain to celebrate the millennium in London’s Canary Wharf. The show contained works by Henry Moor, Dame Elizabeth Frink and other prominant sculptors. 




How can I find out more about your sculpture and how you make it?







 


Look very hard at the work. Try to get here on Open Days.  If you can't do that, you could buy Heather Jansch's Diary... A life in the year of which gives an insight into what my life is like and what is involved in the working process.  But the best thing you can do is experiment, try to find your own way of working, something unique to you will have a vitality to it that nothing copied can ever equal..



What is the differene between statues and sculptures?


Statue and sculpture are often confused because the two words have similar meanings.  The word statue is used when speaking of traditional life-size or larger carving in stone or bronze of a human figure or group of figures, and specifically in relation to figures from antiquity especially those mounted on horse back, hence an equestrian statue. A small statue is referred to as a statuette. 


According to The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary the definition of a statue is:

‘A representation of a living being, sculptured, moulded or cast in marble, metal, plaster, etc; spec. a usu. life-size or larger figure of a deity, mythical being, or eminent person.’ 


Until recently most statuary was of a high quality but now garden centres and shopping malls have become inundated with mass produced concrete, fibre glass/resin and driftwood articles of dubious quality. Sculpture is the term more frequently used to describe contemporary 3D artworks especially those of an abstract nature by a fine artist, either unique originals or signed limited editions as distinct from mass produced factory replicas. High quality sculpture is serious work created by fine creative artists and can be in any material and of any size.  







       What are driftwood bronzes & how are they made, is the driftwood covered in real bronze?  

       For a description of the process Bronze casting

 

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