Monday, September 17

Heather Jansch and her Driftwood Horses

As you probably know by now I love sculptures and I love horses; what you might not know is my love for 'nature art'. By nature art, I mean art that is made by organic materials (ie. rocks, sand, snow, wood, etc). This particular artist I have seen around a lot and I absolutely adore her work so naturally I would love to share her work. Heather Jansch is an artist from the UK who creates beautiful life-sized driftwood horses. Everytime I see them they just take my breath away. The contours are so precise to that of a horse and she captures their movement and spirit so perfectly. Admittedly I have wanted one of her sculptures since I found out about them. She does make other animals (I have seen a bear, stag, pigs etc) but her horses are what captured my interest. 

About the Artist

Heather Jansch had two major loves in life, drawing and horses; which sounds an awful lot like me when I was a kid! She studied visual arts at Walthamstow College where she did very well. She later went to Goldsmiths College in London, but she didn't do as well this time because she was more of a figurative artist and the standard was more abstract at the time. She left the course with her ego a bit bruised, she was told she did not have what it takes to be a painter and that she should try graphics instead. She got by for awhile as a painter taking high-priced commissions to make realistic equestrian pieces, but she felt something was missing and that she lacked her own style. She decided to consult with an internationally regarded artist, Arthur Giadelli. He helped her find her way and gave her a starting point in finding her own style; basically she was told to keep working with horses but find what makes them special. Soon after she came up with driftwood and so the story continues. 

The Process

When I first learned about these horses I wondered how she got all that driftwood; I am lucky if I even find one decent piece while at the beach! According to her website, the driftwood is collected for her from the Devon coast and estuaries by her assistants (or it is donated). She tries to maintain the original appearance of the driftwood by only carving when she has to. The driftwood is placed over a fibre-glass covered steel frame, which stops the wood from shifting position. The steel frame could be considered comparable to an armature in my own sculptures. The wood pieces are then held by wire and screwed into place. The hooves are not made from wood, but are actually recycled cooper or sometimes lead. 


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