Nick is restoring two mid 19th century Spelter figures for his family, together with his Studio Assistant, Ewan Stell. Given the nature of the damage, we’ve named the two figures ‘Left Handed Luke’ and ‘Nearly Headless Nick.’
To restore these figures, Nick will carry out museum quality repairs, otherwise known as reversible repair. This involves the use of rust proof studding, epoxy resin, putty and adhesives. Not only is there no risk of destroying the original piece, but it is possible to differentiate between the restored sections and the original by X-ray. This method is preferable to welding – which risks destroying large areas of the original piece, and is irreversible (museums generally frown on welding as a method of restoration).
In these photographs, the two figures can be seen in Nick’s studio. Ewan is cleaning the figures before the restoration work begins.
Stay tuned to see the next stage of the restoration process…
The casting of the ‘Maximus’ horse skull with Florence Bigglestone (@floss_art) is now complete, and the piece will soon be displayed within the Grosvenor Museum, Chester – as part of an exhibition drawing inspiration from Roman chariot racing.
Final stage: Once the sculpture has been stained, gold leaf is applied to the raised filligree.
Whilst installing ‘The Sisters’ in Ellesmere last June, Nick had this idea for a memorial to mark the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. This is the mockup that we produced of his initial idea, ‘The Oracle,’ set against the beautiful backdrop of Ellesmere. He is now looking for a suitable site for this powerful piece.
At the time, Nick made this statement: “In the six years of the Second World War, the UK lost some 60,000 civilians to the conflict. We have lost the same number in 3 months, to this devastating virus.” Today, one year on, the total deaths in the UK have surpassed 152,000.
“After both world wars there was a need for memorials in almost every town and village, and I feel there’s a need for a place of focus and contemplation: As a response to the premature and unexpected loss of so many lives.”
The casting of the ‘Maximus’ horse skull with Florence Bigglestone (@floss_art) continues, safely and with social distancing…
Part 1: The final caps of the piece mold for the skull are prepared for a vinamold pour – with the seams filled in with clay, vaseline & white spirit applied, joiner’s dogs fitted, and runners & risers added. The pour then takes place. Once the vinamold has set, de-molding begins.
Part 2: These photographs show how the piece mold has been constructed; in particular how the intricate shapes around the nose have been held in place (to create the needed grooves/hollows in negative). The vinamold caps are brushed down and cleaned, in preparation for test casts to be taken.
Part 3: While test casts are taken from the vinamold caps of the jaw, Florence creates a filligree of her own design, in clay, directly onto the face of the skull itself (which has previously been restored, repaired and reinforced). The filligree design is directly inspired by Roman chariots. Latex will later be used to take molds of the clay filligree.
Part 4: Test casts are taken from the jaw, to test the strength, thickness and finish – the plaster is combined with different types of fibres for each test cast. This process will inform the full cast of the skull. In these images, the test caps seen were cast with jute scrim.
Part 5: Another filligree, of Florence’s design, is created for the sides of the jaw – modelled directly in clay over the bone. Clay walls are then run around the areas on both the face of the skull and the jaw, for molds of the filligree to be taken in latex. After that, the latex is built up in several coats, and then reinforced with cotton scrim.
Stay tuned for the next part of the mold making process!
The brilliant Sonia Goulding has written a feature article (for Welsh Country online magazine) on Nick, and how his sculpture practise has evolved. It’s difficult to discuss the world of sculpture and form using words, but Sonia has a gift with them – have a read!
A big thank you to both Sonia, and Welsh Country magazine.
“Nick continues to work in his quiet and determined way. Principled in his approach, and fiercely passionate, he has remained independent of means, and therefore of thought and artistic direction. His sculptures are deeply personal responses to the people and the landscapes which move him to creativity, the beauty and emotion he sees in shape and form made real, sculpture as a gracious, never-ending dance.”
The casting of the ‘Maximus’ horse skull with Florence Bigglestone (@floss_art) continues, safely and with social distancing): The most fragile areas of the skull are reinforced with clay and vinymold, to allow for clean de-molding of the caps without damage to the skull itself. The caps are then prepared in plaster.
The casting of the horse skull with fine artist Florence Bigglestone (@floss_art) continues: Following some subtle reinforcing and restoration, the skull (which has been named ‘Maximus’ – “Are you not entertained?”) has been clayed up, and the first caps of the piece mold are underway, in plaster.
We’ve been joined by Nick’s colleague, Tim Johnson, who has been assisting in documenting the process and working with Florence.