Ian G Brennan

Sculptor and Woodcarver to the

British Royal Household



Ian G Brennan; ‘Sculptor to the Most Noble Order of the Garter and Most Honourable Order of the Bath’; has been a professional Artist, Woodcarver and Sculptor for almost forty years working in a wide variety of subjects and materials, including wood, marble-resin, sterling silver and bronze. Although Ian produces realistic and heraldic wood carvings and bronze sculptures, along with a variety of his limited-edition bronzes; the vast majority of his work involves creating detailed bespoke 'one off ' sculptures in a variety of different subjects and materials.
For over thirty years as professional Sculptor Ian has been commissioned to create a wide variety of sculptures of almost three hundred unique sculptures created mostly in both wood and bronze for Private and Corporate clients including over one hundred and thirty unique sculptures for the British Royal Household. These commissions have included creating sculptures for over one hundred Knights, four British Prime Ministers, twenty-eight British and European Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, Earls, Lords and an Emperor. 


Although there are a small number of examples of Ian’s more recent sculptures on this website. Most sculptures shown here are his early work as many of his commissions for private and corporate clients and particularly those for the Royal Household have not been included. However , contemporarysculptor.com still gives a good idea of the typical style and detail that sculptor and woodcarver Ian G Brennan has created for the past four decades.

One moment he would be creating a bronze Unicorn for a private garden, to an eight feet wide ‘Bald Eagle’ carved from within the fork of a centuries old lime tree for a Company reception. To an eight feet high ‘Mute Swan’ bronze for Lakeland in Florida, to carving the ‘Starboard side Entrance Port’ for Lord Nelson’s 18th century Flagship Victory.


Although Ian is able to work quickly and is rather prolific, during 2018/19 there was still a two-year waiting period for Ian’s ‘private’ commissions. creating large and small highly detailed sculptures in marble/resin, wood and bronze sculptures, including detailed sculptures depicting the Human form, to a pair of Horses. A Golden Eagle in flight, to a pair of Kingfishers. Sculptures of an Otter and an Elephant, to a large bas-relief carving of the Royal Arms. Sculptures of a Dog, Tawny Owl and a Knight in armour on horseback, along with creating the bejewelled and gilded Crowns for two European Kings. 

In the early 1990’s Ian began work on creating a totally unique 1;57 scale carved replica of Lord Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory, depicted as 'Running before the Wind' carved entirely from the Ships original century’s old solid oak timbers including all the carved oak sails, 104 guns, signal flags, ropes and rigging, right down to the pod of dolphins riding the bow wave. The whole unique sculpture depicting HMS Victory has been carved from original oak removed from within the hull of the 18th century warship it replicates and nothing else.

HMS Victory ‘Running before the Wind’ ( Victory oak 47 inches long)


The sculpture was carved entirely from centuries old oak timbers removed from the lower gun deck of HMS Victory during Nelson’s 18th century Flagships restoration program from often battered centuries old oak beams containing the hull, sails and rigging just waiting to be released into the modern world. The Victory Sculpture safely hidden away within these oak beams on the Victory’s gun decks away from the noise, smoke and confusion as various Battles over the decades raging all around, if only walls could talk. 

It was once said by Michelangelo with marble but is the same for wood. 'The sculpture was always inside the marble, it simply required releasing by the artist’ 

Sculptor Ian G Brennan has exhibited his wood and bronze sculptures in such diverse venues including onboard the QE2 to the City of London. On the middle gun deck of HMS Victory, to the Queens room aboard the QE2, along with both London and provincial Art Galleries and Museums, including as the Artist in Residence. During 1990 the Museum Service in England toured a large collection of Ian’s sculptures as a ‘one man’ exhibition to various museums throughout the year. 

Ian has also given Talks and Presentations displaying his work from the City of London to Burlington House; Home of the Royal Academy Chapel in Windsor Castle to the Dungeons beneath the Castle. Ian's fully illustrated Talks have also extended to the somewhat more salubrious surroundings as since 1992 up to 2023 when Ian has been invited to give his fully illustrated talks and presentations onboard five Cunard Ships from the QE2 to the QM2. 

The wide contrast of Ian’s work ranges from highly detailed naturalistic one-off wood, silver and bronze sculptures and occasionally an idea for a sculpture arrives right out of the blue. Ian was working on a half-life size white resin ‘Mute Swan ‘master copy' for a bronze sculpture which had taken a few weeks to re-create in soft green casting wax as it would appear around a decade later as history once again repeats itself,



‘Global Warming’ cast in bronze and frozen in time. 2020


As this half-life size Mute Swan wax sculpture was inadvertently left in his glass surrounded workshop on what later turned out to be the hottest ever recorded day in England, which rather unsurprisingly took ‘Mother Nature’ less than two hours to create the wax ‘Global Warming’ sculpture, greatly assisted during the past four plus decades and counting, by some of mankind’s tireless and relentless efforts to exasperate this whole sorry process; The elephant in the room. Although the original partially completed white resin Swan ‘master copy’ remained uninfected and a symbol of how things should have been, now alongside the 'melted wax Swan a testament of what things may well become without more foresight and purpose and with the concept already well established with the Dali ‘melting watch’ paintings.


The Elephant in the Room?  'On the Brink' - bronze


Ian’s sculptures have been placed in many diverse places including Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, The Royal College of Arms, Museums, Government Buildings, Company Receptions, Board Rooms, Churches, The United Grand Lodge of England, HMS Victory, Cunard Ships, Public Spaces and both Stately and Private art collections from all over the World.

Ian’s sculptures have also been created for television programs and can be found on books and magazine covers and even Ian was even featured by Country Life as a ‘Living National Treasure’ and on a set of Royal Mail Postage Stamps featuring Windsor Castle issued in 2017. 



In 1989 Ian G Brennan was officially appointed ‘Sculptor to the Most Noble Order of the Garter and the Most Honourable Order of the Bath’ and since that time Ian spends an average of five months a year, every year, working on a wide variety of unique sculpture commissions in both wood and bronze for the British Royal Household. 

For the most part these commissions from the Royal Household are quite evenly spaced out throughout the year which enables Ian to also continue working on his Private and Corporate commissions in wood, silver and bronze, although during HM The Queens Golden Jubilee year, Ian was working on sixteen totally unique sculptures throughout that period, many of which were placed on public display in St George’s Chapel when the Crowned Heads of Europe also joined HM The Queen for the Jubilee ‘Order of the Garter Ceremony’ held at Windsor Castle.

Currently there are over seventy of Ian’s sculptures on public display in the ancient and historic settings of St Paul’s Cathedral, Henry V11 Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey and St George’s Chapel, in Windsor Castle. These commissions vary from creating many of the Coronets and Crowns for both British and European royalty and an Emperor. As well as produced detailed high bas-relief and three dimensions sculptures which include sculptures depicting animals, birds and the human form along with the more traditional heraldic carvings which include Regal Lions, Unicorns and Mythical Beasts. 



Ian delivered HRH The Princess Anne; The Princess’s Royals gilded Coronet he created for the Princess’s installation as a Lady of the Garter in 1994. HM the Queen in procession at Windsor Castle, from the Royal Apartments to St George's Chapel during the annual instillation of Royal Knights, Knights and Lady Companions of the Most Noble Order of the Garter 

In 2008 On St George’s Day at Windsor Castle Ian was kindly informed by HM The Queen that HRH Prince William; The Duke of Cambridge, was to become the 1000 Knight of the Garter since 1348, to hold this the highest Order of Chivalry and was later commissioned to create Princess Williams Royal Crest and Sword. The wide contrast of commissions over the decades both large and smaller also as diverse as one day creating a Crown for a Queen, to the next carving a Stag for a British Prime Minister and then delivering both sculptures to Windsor Castle to be placed on display in St George's Chapel in time for the Garter Service attended by HM The Queen and other members of the Royal family and during the past three decades Ian has also been Crown maker for several Kings and Queens of Europe. 


The Crest and Crowns for King Harold V1 of Norway – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands – Prince William – King Felipe of Spain and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

During 2017/18 Ian also received fourteen sculpture commissions from the Royal Household all to be placed on display in Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle. These commissions varied from creating detailed sculptures of Falcon’s, Boars and Owls, to Badgers, Rams and Dogs, to then creating the gilded and bejewelled Crown for King Felipe V1 of Spain and the Crown for King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. 

In the mid 1980’s Ian began exhibiting his then often life size realistic wildlife sculptures in both wood and bronze in various Museums and Art Galleries in the UK. However, after a decade of exhibiting his sculptures in various Art Galleries and Museums his sculpture commission kept him so busy particularly those regular commissions from the Royal Household but although he occasionally exhibits in Museums, in 1997 after over a decade, Ian’s stopped exhibiting his sculptures in art galleries with his last exhibition held at the Mall Gallery in London.

However, for the past three decades in his ‘spare’ time’ Ian has spent many weeks of each year often working alongside his commissions, creating a large collection of over thirty totally unique sculptures using a wildly diverse collection of sculptures old once discarded materials, incorporating original often historic and iconic British objects and materials into sculpture form, often from old historic, materials recover during restoration and deemed beyond restoration. 




This unique A piece of British History collection’ includes four different wood sculptures carved directly from old, often discarded objects and materials from historic British places including old oak beams recovered after the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992. The collection also includes sculptures created from original materials from HMS Victory, The Royal Yacht Britannia, and the Cutty Sark. Also includes materials from a classic J Class Yacht, a Rolls Royce, a 1940’s Supermarine Spitfire and a carving from within a Dinosaur fossil from the Jurassic period found on a beach on the Isle of White. 




‘One of the Few’ – for ‘England and Saint George’ - View from the Redoubtable’-Running before the Wind’- 'Fire in the Hall'

One of the Few’ A 1940’s Spitfire windscreen set in a frame carved from HMS Victory oak - ‘ England and Saint George’ -carved from within a roof beam removed from the St Georges’ Hall extensively damaged in the Windsor Castle fire. ‘A View from the Redoubtable’ ‘ a scene carved from within one of HMS Victory’s original hull’s oak framing. - Running before the Wind carved from original oak timbers removed from HMS Victory. - - ‘Fire in the Hall An original wooden shield for a 17th century Knight of the Garter removed from St George’s Hall after the Great Fire at Windsor Castle in 1992.

With everything on line in a digital world, there is value in physical history. 
‘The original function for this material has long gone, but its history remains’. 



Various Restoration projects;

Although Ian prefers to concentrate on creating original artwork and no longer gets too involved with restoration projects, n the past has rather enjoyed working with such organisations as the Royal Household, Private and Government organisations along with the Museum service and English Heritage to assist on a wide variety of historic replicating or restoration projects. Such commissions have included replacing or resto ndsor Castle after the fire in 1992 and also carving a replica of an 18th century ships Lion figure-head for a museum. Along with replacing the original intricately carved entrance port on Lord Nelson’s historic Flagship HMS Victory and more recently restoring a carved Crest for Sir Winston Churchill and the Royal Knight of the G Various Restoration projects; ring antique, ornate plaster mouldings, wood carvings and bronze sculptures for Government buildings, Museums, Churches, Southwick House, The College of Arms in London, Windsor Castle after the fire in 1992 and also carving a replica of an 18th century ships Lion figure-head for a museum. Along with replacing the original intricately carved entrance port on Lord Nelson’s historic Flagship HMS Victory and more recently restoring a carved Crest for Sir Winston Churchill and the Royal Knight of the G Various Restoration projects;

Although Ian prefers to concentrate on creating original artwork and no longer gets too involved with restoration projects, n the past has rather enjoyed working with such organisations as the Royal Household, Private and Government organisations along with the Museum service and English Heritage to assist on a wide variety of historic replicating or restoration projects. Such commissions have included replacing or restoring antique, ornate plaster mouldings, wood carvings and bronze sculptures for Government buildings, Museums, Churches, Southwick Garter Crown for King Edward V111. Southwick House, (where D Day in WW2 was planned) restoring ornate mirrors and picture frames. The restored antique mirrors and a large damaged picture frame for 'Southwick House' near Portsmouth, the former Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. The Allied Headquarters of General Eisenhower during WW 2, to restore an oak bench from the private gardens in Kensington Palace.



‘Other Early works’


During the past three plus decades these commissions have also varied from an eight feet wide Bald eagle in flight carved from within the trunk of a massive Lime tree destined for a USA Company’s reception area. To carve from within a centuries old Sequoia log, a Globe sculpture for a UK’s Corporation’s reception area. The 5 feet high Logo and Crest carved from white marble and resin for the Grand Lobby of Cunard’s Queen Victoria. 

These commissions are as diverse as one moment carving a large molar for outside a Dental surgery, to a wood carving of the ‘Risen Christ’ for inside a Church to then producing a Crown for a Queen to the 2000 Rugby Cup Final Trophy’ held at Murrayfield. Although Ian career as a professional sculptor started in the mid 1980’s working mainly as a realistic wildlife woodcarver, within a few years his fine detailed realistic sculptures depicting the human form were also being produced in wood, silver and bronze. 




Many of a sculptor original ‘master copies are often modelled directly from wax or clay and are often then discarded or lost during the moulding process. Whilst many of Ian’s ‘master copies’ are carved directly in wood, marble-resin or plaster and most of these originals which can also be enlarged by the art foundry if required and the original wax, plaster and white marble/resin enables Ian to create the exceptionally fine detail when required. 








During 2022, one of the five sculpture commissions from the royal Household that year was to create the Coronet for The Queen Consort which was then placed in position in St George's Chapel Windsor alongside the Coronet Ian made almost three decades earlier for Princess Anne, The Princess Royal. The following year two of his latest seven commissions for the royal household were being worked on simultaneously, including being commissioned to transform the Queen Consort’s Coronet and creating the Crown for Queen Camilla. Along with creating the Mute Swan Crest for former British Prime Minister; Sir Tony Blair. Both of which were placed on display in St George’s Chapel in time for the annual Order of the Garter Service held at Windsor Castle, attended by HM King Charles as the Sovereign and Queen Camila along with other members of the royal family, Knights of the Garter and invited guests. 


A marble/resin casting of a Royal Unicorn and limited edition bronzes - Queen Camilla's Crown – Sir Tony Blair’s Crest.


HM The Queen’s Crown and Sir Tony Blair's Mute Swan crest shown being worked on alongside other commissions and also alongside one of the locals wildlife which is just one of the joys about living and working alongside a nature reserve for the past fifty years, as there is always constant activity involving the often-curious wildlife who are always welcome to wander around the garden and inside the studio from the forest beyond if they choose to visit.

On one occasion several years ago a suckling Sow Badger was found at the bottom of the garden trying to hide under our Camellia surrounded by noisy Crows who were far too interested in the badger for our liking. She was semi-conscious, dehydrated, malnourished and in need of urgent assistance which of course Ian gave, all under the watchful gaze of the crows from above as he did so.





Today the sow now named ‘Patch’ is a frequent visitor often along with her family in the studio whilst Ian is working. this time the bas-relief carving of taken from one of Ian’s favourite Turner paintings ‘The Battling Temeraire,’ depicting HMS Temeraire being ignominiously towed away for scrap, a decade or so after the Ship and her heroic crew saved HMS Victory from potential oblivion in 1805 at the height of the Battle of Trafalgar. 

On this occasion a badger who Ian was able to assist several years earlier when the suckling sow was found to be dehydrated, malnourished and in need of assistance and today is a frequent visitor often with her family to his studio whilst he is working. The following morning he is working in the garden. this time the bas-relief carving of taken from one of Ian’s favourite Turner paintings ‘The Battling Temeraire,’ depicting HMS Temeraire being ignominiously towed away for scrap, a decade or so after the Ship and her heroic crew saved HMS Victory from potential oblivion in 1805 at the height of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The relief carving being carved from an original piece of centuries old Victory oak removed during the restoration process from the orlop deck where centuries earlier Admiral Lord Nelson lay mortally wounded. Once completed the ‘Temeraire Revisited’ bas-relief oak carving will be part of the ‘History in the Making Collection’ currently being created from original old historic British objects and materials that were actually there when history was being made. Along with the centre ;piece of the Collection the Victory Sculpture carved entirely from original oak beams removed from the very ship it replicates and nothing else .



What a difference a few decades can make. One day in 1976 I decided to give up my full-time career as an assistant research and development engineer working in clean room conditions in a laboratory surrounded by the latest cutting-edge technology. To the next in far less spotless conditions making furniture surrounded by hand tools that had seen better days in a dusty shed I originally built to store my motorbike then requisitioned to make furniture full time, I had previously been making part time. Then in my mid-twenties I had a midlife crisis having decided my new forever career was to be a carpenter just like my Grandad, until fate decided otherwise. When a decade the transformation from a part time carpenter to full time cabinet maker was up and running like a saw after moving into a much larger workshop fully equipped with the finest three-phase woodworking machinery to cope with a full order book and after many months of early starts and late nights working as a one-man band trying to keep up with my ever-increasing repertoire, when overnight the business burnt down when I finally did manage to get some sleep. 



‘Day one’ in the spring and months later still playing catch up making Furniture and by winter time the same place but different Craft. 


My new career from a cabinetmaker to sculptor began in 1984 when I found myself with no stock, machinery, tools, or a workshop with walls and especially a roof. Waiting customers who had paid stage and final payments for their recently completed furniture including a cedar wood kitchen corner seating unit and table. A fully fitted solid oak kitchen and the remaining solid mahogany galley units recently completed for the classic 1930’s J Class Yacht Velsheda. All highly polished and just waiting delivery, but then just a pile of burnt embers lying beneath the soles of my increasingly warming up boots. Fragments of blackened timbers occasionally still glowing from the intense heat of the fire recently extinguished by the local fire brigade who with a job well done and heavy red hoses rolling up and after wishing me luck, were soon on their way. Blackened burnt timbers covered by layers of thick grey dust that in the odd place underneath were glowing red hot and with each gust of wind, fragments of what remained of my business, income and customers furniture orders would gently fly away into the night sky like tiny Chinese lanterns…… 

Then realising I had made a silly mistake with renewing my business insurance policy, subsequently left me uninsured and standing in the blackened rubble amongst the still smoking burnt out workshop as Dawn was about to rise with a dozen or so of large three-phase woodworking machines that were caught in the centre of it all, still hot to the touch. Machines that only the day before were warm in other ways as they were busily earning their keep along with another bag of fresh bedding for next door's rabbits. Being free-lance I soon found myself with no prospects of earning income anytime soon along with a five-figure overdraft residing with a Bank who did not bear bad news well and that patience was not a virtue, as Head office strongly advised me to take my overdraft elsewhere as they no longer wished to lend their no doubt ample funds with the likes of me.

As a result, the house which I had purchased a decade earlier along with a large garden and a small mortgage from the compensation I received for my injuries and the wages lost over the years waiting for them to heal, after being knocked of my motorcycle on Good Friday by a Van in a hurry and the house that the crash built, was then at risk of being reposed effectively if I couldn’t make something from nothing and the monies deposited in a pretty timely fashion…... 

However, if at the time I had simply renewed my business insurance correctly like most people tend to do and have done so in the past. I would have simply replaced all my tools, machines and timber with the insurance and moved into a new workshop with electricity, walls and especially a roof. Take on staff to help with my full order book and would simply have to start again like you do and as a consequence the sculptures shown here and the hundreds of sculptures not shown here, commissioned from all over the world and also much closer to home, would most likely never have existed…….. 

Including over 140 commissions from the British royal household during the past thirty-four years which include creating the bejewelled Crowns for seven British and European Kings and Queens including creating the gilded Crown for Queen Camila. Along with creating a wide variety of unique sculptures for Four British Prime Ministers, Twenty-five Princes, Princesses, Earls, Lords, Ladies, and an Emperor. Over thirty of which could be seen placed on both sides of the historic chapels in Westminster Abbey and the medieval chapel St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where in 2022 HM King Charles 111 made his first Christmas address to the Nation and beyond. 

St Georges’ Chapel Windsor. - Christmas 2022


2023 remains part of a busy decade as amongst others a ‘Bust of a Man’ originally worked in clay along with a detailed ‘Hawk in Flight’ sculpture originally carved from wood now about to be cast in bronze were complete. As were the final three of almost 140 sculpture commissions for the royal household completed since 1989 during the reign of HM The Queen Elizabeth 11. Including more recently the gilded and bejewelled Coronet for the Queen Consort for St Georges' Chapel in Windsor Castle and a carved and painted Golden Eagle in Flight for Henry V11 Chapel in Westminster Abbey both completed in time for the King's Coronation at Westminster Abbey in May. 

Also completed during the reign of the HM King Charles 111, included commissions of sculptures depicting a Dog, Panther and Mute Swan for Windsor Castle and the Crown for Queen Camilla which were placed alongside around thirty other totally unique sculptures currently on display in the medieval St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle and shortly afterwards I was kindly informed by the royal household that the designs for two more sculptures for Windsor Castle were being prepared for me to work on to be completed early next year, which will once again ensure I am able to also continue to work on other commissions from all over the world and much closer to home and finally after three decades should hopefully be able to put the finishing touches to the History in the Making Collection’.



"If only I could have known on that fateful day of the fire on May the 7th 1984 when I was standing amongst the ruins of my workshop and career trying to find something, anything that could be salvaged from the fire to use or sell to try and make ends meet. I would discover as dawn was rising, the inspiration for a totally new career hidden deep beneath the blackened rubble of my workshop and career that every night was being transformed into the local tip. That exactly 21 years to the very day, I would instead be standing in the St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle exhibiting wood and bronze sculptures I wasn’t aware I was capable of creating. Along with over seventy other sculptures commissioned at the time by the royal household, many of which were placed upon the walls in the historic medieval chapels in Windsor Castle and Westminster Abbey, having been invited to give a 'Talk' at Windsor Castle about my new career as a professional sculptor and woodcarver whose work can now be found all over the world and much closer to home. That everything would eventually work out in the end and that things might not have been quite so worrying at the time; but you don’t do you”. 

'Success is not how high you can climb, but how long you can hang on’ 



This particular journey over the decades along with all its ups and downs on the way including from 1992 to 2023 having been invited by Cunard to cruise the seven seas and a few oceans along the way from the QE2 to the QM2 and also on the madden Voyage of one of the latest Cunard Ships to give fully illustrated, informative and often inspirational talks about my work and career as a professional sculptor and how it all came about.

Often after my Talks it has been suggested I really should write a book about it all and a few years ago decided to do so which will include many of the high and low points and so much more in between, with unedited sections of the first draft to be added here shortly and perhaps a much longer version later at www.ohwhatnow.co.uk.



Sculptor Ian G Brennan




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