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The making of Alberto

Most of my bronze projects are developed over 10-12 months in ‘secret’, for the big impact of an unveiling. Sometimes even under an NDA.

With my ethos of modelling on real life for the ultimate in detail and dynamic, and my long held belief that there is no such thing as a crazy idea getting an actual rearing horse in the studio was the obvious thing to do.

And true to my other long held belief that no man can achieve anything alone, massive thanks to Stampede Stunt Animals who spent a month training the amazing Lumi to rear on the spot, in ever tighter confinements. And to Steve Russell studios for a similar period working to triple the size of the 3D capture rig to accommodate him.

The final 3D model from which bronzes will be cast

Stampede came to see us in the studio outside Stroud, mob handed. A parrot and wolf along for a ride even! Lumi was completely unruffled by the cameras, the enclosed space, even the roller shutter door closing behind him and some artist spray painting on him – zero issues. He clipped just one camera during the whole day.

Ok, there was one issue. Do you know what happens when a stallion see’s his own reflection in windows and gets all excited? Yeah, that. Some of the 3D captures are, impressive. A few periods walking around the car park were needed for him to ‘calm down'.

And the spray painted logo wasn’t some artistic diva moment (honest) but to give the 3D software the best chance of knitting together hundreds of photo’s of a plain white horse. It was going to be random shapes painted, before we remembered there was a large feed printer upstairs so it only took 5 minutes to create a stencil. The Stampede handlers knew he’d be fine with being aerosol’d – he’s been entirely painted silver for a shoot before.

The justification of the huge effort to capture Lumi in 3D, was immediate. The quality of the raw data before any refining tweaks was still a surprise. For such an ambitious concept we were expecting a lot more work to do in 3D. From the 30 or so viable models captured there were 4 or 5 which would do the job, where he had one hind hoof off the ground. Combining the best bits of them including one with Lumi on the way down so his mane was flying up.

Above is the finalised 3D model.

You all know what I’m working to imply – but my primary focus is for unprecedented real life detail and dynamic. Not a static cartoon horse, which a literal translation would result in.

The first resultant bronze statue from this will be ready towards the end of 2020 and will be 3 maybe 4 sizes, it seems that I do indeed have a collector crazy enough for a life-size! And the structural engineers reckon it will work, even taking into account strong winds as we have to for an outside structure.

My first focus is for a 3 ft version, and a 5ft 4″ (which works out at 60% – so F1 wind tunnel size) perfect for car show rooms and garages.

Footage of the initial project stages

9 months after the highly trained stunt horse Lumi was rearing in the studio, the first 3ft bronze was complete. Now christened Alberto, after after the legendary Ascari. Turning the art world’s modus operandi on its head, I’ve been showing progress images as I’ve been working with the most prestigious bronze foundry in the world, Pangolin Editions.

Well, here is the first finished result, in a 3ft bronze. To me it was all about balance and dynamic, to get as much movement as possible in a stationary object, 30kg standing on one narrow ankle. You all know the pose – but firstly it needed to be a real horse, more than a heavily stylised impression.

For at least 7 months of the project, I wasn’t totally sure he would balance. Theoretically he should after all Lumi could strike this pose in real life, however briefly. But assuming that balance would translate into bronze couldn’t be taken for granted. Of course he’s bolted to the plinth, and with an internally reinforced standing leg – but it does actually balance without standing on one hoof!

The three sizes, 6ft, 45cm, 3ft. Quoted heights excluding plinth.


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