Banburyshire horses come to life

Another horse emerges as part of Hamish Mackie's sculpture.
Another horse emerges as part of Hamish Mackie's sculpture.

London’s latest tourist 
attraction is taking visitors to a Banburyshire-produced 
artwork that has become the talk of the capital.

Last Thursday, housing minister Brandon Lewis unveiled six extraordinary bronzes created by Hook Norton sculptor Hamish Mackie and made at the Lockbund Foundry, near Cropredy.

Mr Mackie said: “It has been a sculptor’s dream to be involved in creating a wonderful new place with the support of a patron prepared to back ideas.

“This has been by far my biggest project. The horses needed 6.5 tonnes of clay. To put this in perspective I normally use 250kg of clay in a year.”

Each of the six, life-and-a-quarter sized horses – including a Thoroughbred, an Arabian and an Andalusian – weighs a tonne. They are now positioned in a two-acre open space at the centre of a multi-million pound housing development called Goodman’s Fields in Aldgate, a short walk from the City of London.

The horses hurtle in an arc through a piazza towards Leman Street where the lead stallion rears up dramatically, ‘eyeballing’ commuters on every passing double decker bus.

The sculptures were commissioned by Berkeley Homes to bring alive the history of the site where once Mr Goodman leased out the fields for London’s livery horses.

Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgley said: “We wanted to create one of the finest new squares in London.”

Hamish Mackie began his career as a sculptor in a converted carthorse stable and is renowned for his ability to be able to capture the essence, movement and energy of wild animals in their natural habitat.

He has worked very closely with Simon Allison, proprietor of Lockbund Foundry which provides a bronze casting service to scores of artists.

The foundry has expanded to be able to provide specialist casting for huge sculptures such as Hamish Mackie’s horses. Another recent job was a ten feet high sculpture of Her Majesty the Queen by sculptor James Butler which has been installed on the banks of the Thames at Runnymede to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta.

Mr Mackie has been a close associate of Mr Allison since the latter agreed to cast his first sculpture on the basis of faith in Mr Mackie’s talent.

“I went to meet with Simon and showed him my pieces. He took an incredible leap of faith and said ‘you make them and I’ll cast them and you can pay me when you sell them’.”

The horse sculptures were made with clay over armatures using more than a kilometre of steel wire. Experts at the foundry made casts of parts of the sculptures which were filled with molten bronze at 1,200 degrees centigrade and then reassembled.