Stunning sculptures are ‘best of British’

Hamish Mackie and horse sculptures made at Cropredy Foundry. NNL-150317-181352009
Hamish Mackie and horse sculptures made at Cropredy Foundry. NNL-150317-181352009

A Banburyshire sculptor is perfecting a herd of six astonishing bronze horses that are set to become an historic British work of art.

Hamish Mackie of Hook Norton is Britain’s foremost wildlife sculptor.

His horses – bigger than lifesize – have been forged in a specialist foundry near Cropredy where a team of 14 crafts-
people have been working on this outstanding achievement that is destined to become a tourist attraction in London.

They leave north Oxfordshire next month on two lorries to be a public work of art at a new development .

“The company put the commission out to tender to six sculptors who sent in their ideas – and mine was chosen,” said Mr Mackie.

“There are six different breeds, including an Arab, an Andalusian, an Irish Cob and a Thoroughbred.

“The first unveiling will be the Andalusian, which will form the centrepiece of a display at the Chelsea Flower Show which opens on May 19.”

The impressive bronze statues were fashioned in a process that has changed little in 6,000 years.

Their first form was as metal skeletons, consuming a kilometre of thin steel, in Mr Mackie’s studio. These early structures were jointed so the sculptor could adjust them to achieve an authentic impression of equine movement before the mould-making and casting began at Lockbund Foundry. Once the flesh, manes, tails and other detail were built and completed, a complex production process followed. Casts of segments were made in stages to accommodate moulten bronze at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit and so details of the original were not lost.

These included coatings in wax, ceramic slip and even steel-reinforced fibreglass because of the weight of the bronze filling. Each hollow horse weighs over a tonne.

The horses have their own ‘foundations’ so they can be securely fixed in place in their new surroundings at Goodman’s Fields, Whitechapel.

A Berkeley Homes spokesman described the sculptures as ‘a testament and showcase for the best of British creative and engineering talent’.