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The ‘Spirit of Britons and ‘Turning Point’ Collection

 by

 Sculptor Ian G Brennan

Sculptor and Woodcarver to the British Royal Household

Ian G Brennan; Sculptor to the Most Noble Order of the Garter and the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

 

Ian G Brennan who was officially appointed 'Sculptor to the Most Noble Order of the Garter and Most Honourable Order of the Bath' in 1989 and has been a professional artist and sculptor working in a wide variety of materials for over thirty years. Ian's woodcarvings and bronze sculptures can be found in Windsor Castle, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Museums, HMS Victory, Cunard Ships and both Public and Private Art collections all over the World.

 


 

For the past three plus decades; somehow finding the time; Ian has spent many weeks of each year working alongside his commissions, on the ‘Spirit of Britain’s’ ‘Touch a piece of History’ collection. Consisting of twenty totally unique sculptures created by incorporating often old, original, historic and iconic British objects and materials into sculpture form, all relative in one way or another to its original source; often using materials rescued in one form or another and often from one skip or another. Further Background information:

The collection is all about the original saved historic objects and materials and is not so much what they  were to become. So as to detract as little as possible from the original material and condition used in this collection, Ian has simply worked on the premise of less is more.

Sculptures such as ‘Fire in the Hall’ and ‘Family Seat’ required less impute from Ian, compared to ‘A view from Redoubtable’ and ‘The Victory sculpture’ which required considerably more.

 

 


 

Although Ian is one of those rare artists that both carves and casts in a wide variety of different materials, he is a true carver by nature and inclination. All this combined with his added fascination about the challenge of carving objects from old, once discarded objects and materials, in less than perfect condition. Fully aware there is an infinite number of sculptures within them just waiting to be revealed.

This unique collection created from a wide variety of materials from many different periods in British history, created from objects, millions of years apart. From more recently a 1940’s Spitfire when the Nation was undergoing great peril; to the Jurassic period when the Nation was undergoing great change.

Although through this often-traumatic period within the British Isle’s the original function for this material has long gone, but its history and enduring Spirit within, remains.

 ‘It is 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’

 

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’. 

 

 


 

This unique sculpture collection has been created using the remains of old, historic, often iconic buildings, objects and materials, both ancient and modern. Including Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Southwick House, HMS Victory, The Royal Yacht Britannia, The Cutty Sark, a J Class Yacht, a Rolls Royce, a 1940’s Supermarine Spitfire and a Dinosaur fossil found whilst holidaying on a beach on the Isle of White in the 1970’s.

 

   

 

‘One of Few’ An original Supermarine Spitfire’s armoured windscreen, set in an oak frame made from original timbers from HMS Victory. (18 inches high)

'Fire in the Hall’ This ancient wooden shield was originally painted with a seventieth century Night of the Garter’s Coat of Arms, which was erased in the fierce fire.

‘Back in Time’ A bone fossil from an earlier British inhabitant, set upon a slice of Fossilized petrified wood also from the Jurassic period (12 inches long)

 

 

Sculptures include: -

The Victory Sculpture’-  Back in Time' - ‘One of the Few’ – ‘Fire in the Hall’ – ‘A View from the Redoubtable’ - ‘'The Family Seat’ – ‘Three Lions’ - ‘Cutty Sark- Running before the Wind’ 1&2  - Nelson’s Pillow - ‘Crown Jewels for the Iron Lady’ - ‘Spirit of Britons’ - ‘Britannia’ –‘First Reserve’ - - National Game’ -–‘Homeward Bound’ - ‘Loose Cannon’ – ‘Goblets for a Gun Crew’ -– ‘Source of Victory’ – ‘St George from the Chapel’ –  ‘Heart of Oak’ – ‘ Above is only Sky’ -  'Phoenix Rising' - 'Royal Salute' - 'England and Saint George' -  ‘Two over the Yard Arm’ – Plus.

 


 

This collection should also include Ian GB’s ‘milestone - turning point’ wood and bronze sculptures. These sculptures were taken from the over three hundred and fifty mostly commissioned, marble, resin, wood, bronze and sterling silver both large and small sculptures Ian has created since 1984 when he first started carving.

These ‘turning point’ sculptures include Ian’s first and second woodcarving he ever completed along with two of the first wildlife bas relief wood carvings. Two of the first and second series of bronze wildlife sculptures Ian produced. The first and second ‘wood turned’ item Ian ever made. Ian’s first and last life size Eagle in-flight one-piece woodcarving he intends creating. 

Along with a selection of plaster and wooden carved ‘master copies’ for castings in bronze and other materials. The original carved 18 inches high ‘Marsh Harrier in flight’, along with the virtually life size carved original ‘Mute Swan’ one-piece lime wood ‘master copy’ used to create the 8 feet high bronze version placed alongside Mirror Lake in Florida USA.  

The full size ‘prototype’ carved, painted and gilded ‘The Kings Crown’. This Crown turned out to be the first of over one hundred thirty unique sculpture commissions to date, Ian has created since 1989 for the British Royal Household.

 


 

 

The Spirit of Britons - to be completed

 

 

The ‘Spirit of Britons’ sculpture compassing British History, Traditions, Faith, Trade and Security throughout the Ages and incorporates original materials from Windsor Castle, a Rolls Royce’, the Cutty Sark and Lord Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory.

 

Further information

 


 

 

The ‘Victory Sculpture’

 

The potential centre piece of this ‘Spirit of Britons-Touch a Piece of History’ collection is by far the most complex, time-consuming wood sculpture Ian GB has and ever will create. The totally unique Victory Sculpture’. This 47 inches long, fully rigged scale sculpture of Lord Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory was carved, ropes and all, entirely from solid oak pieces from the Warship’s original centuries old oak timbers and nothing else.

 

 

     The 'Victory Sculptor' shown here in Ian's studio and the majority of the Victory's carved hull and sails shown here; in 'kit form' 

 

Both the oak ‘Victory Sculpture’ and its sculptured bespoke mahogany cabinet were being worked for over two decades alongside Ian’s commissions. The Victory Sculpture’ depicted the Victory in full sail ‘Running before the Wind’ took Ian almost three times longer to carve than it took to build Lord Nelson’s somewhat larger version now to be found in Dry Dock in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.

 

 

 

There is now another Victory that was at the Battle of Trafalgar, albeit with much of this Victory being safely hidden away deep within the ships timbers it replicates. These oak timbers were later mostly removed from the lower gun deck area from within the historic warships hull during the Victory’s restoration program in the early 1990’s.

47 inches long -  Further information

 

 


 

 

'One of the Few'

 

The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War II.  During the Battle of Britain in 1940, Spitfires with their superb agility in the air were generally tasked with engaging Luftwaffe fighters—mainly Messerschmitt Bf 109E

 

 

One of the Few sculptures from the ‘Spirit of Britons’ collection was created entirely from combining original material from two of the most iconic British Weapons of War, Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory and an original armoured laminated glass windscreen removed from a damaged 1940’s Supermarine Spitfire.

 

 

 

The ‘One of the Few’ sculpture like all the others were produced in Ian’s studio in Warsash, a Hampshire village less than ten seconds away as the Spitfire flies from the former Supermarine factory where Spitfires were original designed and built in the 1930’s.

The original 940’s Supermarine Spitfire windscreen has been set in a carved oak frame using centuries old timbers removed from the lower gun deck of Victory which was then placed upon a mahogany base which was once a section  of the mahogany timbers Ian used to build the galley in 1984 for the J Class Yachts Velsheda.

18 inches high -Further information

 


 

 

'Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied Castle in the world. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs. William the Conqueror began building the Castle at Windsor around 1070, and it took 16 years to complete. Since then the castle and royal apartments have been restored and modified and enhanced by various monarchs over the centuries, however during November 1992 tragically images of Windsor Castle in flames were shown across the world.

 

 

   

 

During the early part of the restoration process that followed the fire, a curator of a museum had been given permission to rescue a number of the original Knights shields that once surrounded the walls and ceiling of this historic Hall, along with some old beams and plaster mouldings that were also damaged in the fire from skips that were placed alongside the castle walls as the material in the skips were deemed unrestorable. The curator was planning an exhibition about the stages of the fire at the Castle.

Ian was later asked by the curator if it were possible for him to produce something from any of the shields damaged in the fire and he later received some of this original material, including some of these burnt wooden shields to enable him to choose the most suitable for a potential carving for the exhibition. Along with these original wooden Knight of the Garter shields which had for centuries were placed upon the walls and ceiling of the historic St George’s Hall. Along with these shield Ian also received three small oak timbers which were once part of the very structure of the historic Castle.

 


 

Ian has always rather enjoyed the challenge of working with such old or damaged materials which might otherwise be simply disposed of, in an attempt of to create something from nothing. This the first carved shield a scene of the fire which was carved from within one of the most badly burnt wooden Knights shields was  given to the Museum in lieu of payment and in exchange Ian was able to retain some of the other recovered materials including three small blocks of oak along with a small piece of original molded plaster which were no longer required for the exhibition.

 

 

 

The original museums carved shield shown here along with the four various recovered wooden objects later used to create the ‘Windsor Castle Quartet’ sculpture.

From these four particular small sections of medieval oak beams and the Knights shields removed from the castle after the fire, were found in conditions ranging from relatively undamaged, to having been burnt almost beyond recognition. From these old once discarded old material decades later Ian created the Quartet’ set of carvings all sculpted from within these old oak timbers.

 Fire in the Hall’ - 'Phoenix Rising',  - 'Above is only Sky' - 'England and Saint George’ - Royal Salute'

 

 

'Fire in the Hall'

 

 

 

Windsor Castle is a royal residence and is notable for its long association with the British royal family along with its both relatively modern and medieval architecture. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by the reigning monarch and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.

 

 

   

 

This century old fire damaged Knights Shield was recovered from St George's Hall in Windsor Castle after the Great Fire in November 1992. This ancient wooden shield was originally painted with a seventieth century Night of the Garter’s Coat of Arms, which was erased in the fierce fire.

Ian carved from within the fire damaged shield an image depicting a firefighter dousing the flames in Brunswick Tower in the castle which raged throughout the night.

An original wooden shield for a 17th century Knight removed from St George’s Hall after the Great Fire at Windsor Castle in 1992. (18 inches high)

 

18 inches high - Further information

 


 

 

‘The ‘Windsor Quartet’

Decades after Ian first carved the ‘Fire in the Hall’ he decided to create something from these three 10 inches or so high remaining blocks of ancient oak removed from the burnt out remains of the royal apartments after the fire in the royal apartments.

 


 

 

 

The ‘Phoenix rising’ - ‘Royal Salute’ ‘…… England and Saint George’ – ‘Above is only sky’

 

All the sculptures created from within all three blocks of centuries old Windsor castle oak had to be relevant and reflect from whence they came and from the most fire damaged piece, Ian created the ‘Phoenix rising’.

 

 

 

The third wood sculpture to be worked on from this trio of oak beams was 'Above is only Sky' followed by ‘…… England and Saint George’.

 

 

The finally of this quartet of sculptures to be recovered from these once discarded ancient solid oak timbers removed from the very fabric of Windsor Castle was the ‘Royal Salute’. This oak timber was also prising open along the natural split that had accrued over the centuries into two halves.

 

 

 


 

 

'Phoenix Rising'

 

 

 

Amongst wooden objects burnt in the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 and rescued from a skip by a museum curator, included these two small oak beams along with an oak beam which looks like it was once at the very heart of the fire in Windsor Castle.

In 2019 Ian prised open along a crack of the 16 inches long burnt piece of oak like a clam, to recover ‘the ‘Phoenix Rising’.

Further Information:

 


 

 

 

'Above is only Sky'

 

   

 

A relief carving of Windsor Castle currently being carved from a small section of the other medieval oak roof timber from the castle after the fire at Windsor in 1992. 10 inches long

From the reverse side of this small piece of oak Ian carved  '…… England and Saint George’

 

 

  'Above is only sky'

 

Further information:

 


 

‘ …… England and Saint George’

 

Over many centuries through this historic period these pieces of timbers which were once part of the very fabric of Windsor Castle through the fire which raged thought the night through the royal apartments, these centuries old historic oak timbers survived.

 

 

 

 

     

 

This particular original oak beam removed from the Castle after the fire although it looked every bit its age, it remained relatively untouched by the flames.

Once Ian prised open the oak the oak inside was in superb condition so felt from within a beam removed from the part of the Castle extensively damaged in the fire. St George’s Hall. It was therefore rather apt to carve St George, England's patron saint;

 

 

Further information:

 

 


 

 

'Royal salute'

 

 

 

 

During the past thousand years in England there has been fifty-six Sovereigns consisting of a variety of men and women with widely different personalities, reigning in widely different circumstances  on the battle fields and at home during both good and not so good times were they served their Country and reigning as Kings and Queens of England; with the royal line of Scotland emerged with England in the seventieth century.

Part of this small section of medieval oak beam which was relatively untouched in the castle fire was prised open along one of the number of splits already found in the beam. Between two of the these splits there was just enough space and suitable good medieval oak remaining to carve a crouching medieval Knight holding his sword, in full armour to create the ‘Royal Salute’ sculpture.

 

 

 

 'Royal salute'

 

 


 

 

 

The ‘Windsor Quartet’

   

The Windsor Quartet; before and after

 

All that now remains of these three original blocks of medieval Windsor oak are these four somewhat smaller off cuts.

 

 


 

 

‘A view from the Redoubtable'

 

 

The Battle of Trafalgar; The battle in 1805 which was to change the world, was one of the greatest sea battles in British Naval history and gave birth to a legend. Off the coast of Spain's Cape Trafalgar, the British Fleet, led by Lord Horatio Nelson, took on a larger combined French and Spanish force to determine who would be the master of the waves. France's Napoleon Bonaparte was poised to send his powerful army across the English Channel to conquer the island and the only obstacle standing in his way was the British fleet, led by Nelson on Victory.

 

 

'A view from the Redoubtable' before and after

 

A View from the Redoubtable’ is currently being carved from original pieces of oak removed from a oak frame from Lord Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory during the restoration program in the 1990’s. This bas-relief carving was one of a pair of proposed carved Victory oak ‘Trafalgar scenes’ started in the early 1990’s.

The carving depicts Victory about to break the Spanish and French allied line as would have been viewed from the French ship Redoubtable as Admiral Nelson on HMS Victory in the forefront with ‘Fighting Temeraire’ closely following astern.

Also shown to the left in the carved battle scene is the Royal Sovereign  The first ship of the British fleet in action at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, she led one column of British Warships; Nelson's Victory led the other.  

 

 

At the battle, Redoubtable tried in vain to stop Victory from breaking the allied line the French warship engaged her with furious cannon and small arms fire that silenced the British flagship and killed Nelson.

As her crew prepared to board Victory, HMS Temeraire drew alongside and raked her with grapeshot, killing or maiming most of her crew. Redoutable continued to fight until she was in danger of sinking before striking her colours but eventually foundered in the storm of 22nd of October.

A version of Turner's most celebrated paintings The Fighting Temeraire - a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, has been placed on the reverse of the new £20 banknote, first issued in 2020.

To date only the ‘Battle of Trafalgar’ scene; the first of the pair of relief carvings has been completed which was then place on display for almost two decades in the Royal Naval Museum and also onboard Victory’s middle gun deck. ‘A View from the Redoubtable’ over twenty-five years later has yet to be completed; but Ian’s working on it.

41 inches long Further Information

 


 

 

‘The Family Seat’

The Prince and Princes of Wales oak garden bench was once kept in the private walled garden in Kensington Palace.

 

 

The oak bench was present to the Royal couple when they married in 1981. Several decades later Ian was asked to restore the bench after it became worse for wear.

 

 

 

 

Although the top of the seat itself was badly worn which is why Ian replaced it, however underneath the oak seat it was found to be in good enough condition and using oil paints, Ian has outlined the Princess's image onto the oak.

50 inches long Further Information 

 


 

The Three Lions (to be completed)

 

The original restored oak royal crest – the duplicate wax/bronze ‘Royal Lion’ bronze and the potential more modern alternative.

Over the years the elements had taken their toll on the original oak Royal Crest which once adorned the Royal Arms outside the College of Arms in London. Two decades ago, Ian was commissioned to produce a replacement Crest to be cast in bronze.

Ian first created in wax, two identical royal crests along with a possible alternative, but more modern version of the Royal Lion of England. The first Royal Crest was cast in bronze and placed upon the Royal Arms; the other two wax examples were then put to one side.

Decades later both of these ‘wax ’Royal Lions’ were also sent to the same foundry be cast in bronze for the ‘Three Lions’ collection.

Further Information

 

 

Ian’s painted and gilded bronze replacement Royal Crest now placed upon the Royal Arms at the College of Arms

 

The College of Arms is the official heraldic authority for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of the Commonwealth including Australia and New Zealand. also known as Heralds' College. The College of Arms in London was founded by royal charter in 1484 by King Richard 111.

The present 17th-century building dates from after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

 

     

The Royal Crest along with King Edward V111 Crest; before and after Ian restored them

 

 


 

 

Cutty Sark ‘Running before the Wind’ (to be finished)

Cutty Sark is a British clipper ship. Built on the River Clyde, Glasgow in 1869. She was one of the last tea clippers to be built and the fastest of her time and the sole surviving tea clipper ship in the world.

 

   

 

‘Cutty Sark ‘Running before the Wind’ - A pair of bas-relief carvings currently being created from an original pitch pine beam which was once part of the hull of the 19th century British clipper ship Cutty Sark.

Both relief carvings will be carved depicting the Cutty Sark in full sail and will be finished in its natural ‘scots pine colour with a clear wood sealant, along with retaining all the original thick paint on the back of the carving and the timber with a ‘wash’ of white spirit added.

17 & 18 inches high -Further Information

 

 

 


 

‘St George from the Chapel’

 

 

A bronze casting of the 15th century relief carving in the ‘poppy head’ of ‘St George and the Dragon’ on the Prince of Wales Stall, in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

 

 

Over a decade ago Ian was to make an ‘alginate’ mold of the original 15th century woodcarving in the Chapel. It has now been set upon a piece of oak from one of St George’s Hall original damaged roof timbers removed after the fire in 1992.

 

 

 

Further information

 


 

 

‘Britannia’

 

 

A bronze relief castings of the Royal Yacht Britannia set on a section of the original worn teak decking removed from the Britannia during a refit.   (14 inches long)

 

 

Further information

 


 

 

'Homeward Bound'

 

 

‘Homeward Bound’ – The ‘Artist Copy ‘of a signed 1 off 9 limited-edition bronze scenes of the battle damaged Victory undertow to Gibraltar for repairs, before being towed back to England after the Battle of Trafalgar, this bronze is numbered A/C.  

The bronze casting has been set onto a frame made from original oak and copper from HMS Victory.

 

 

15 x 14 ½ inches  - Further information

 


 

 

'First Reserve'

 

One of the four wooden Rugby Balls Ian carved when he was commissioned to carve the ‘Scottish Amicable Rugby Cup Final Trophy’ which was held at Murry Field in 2000 between Scotland and the Barbarians. The cup shown below was presented to the Barbarians winning Team Captain, D Zinzan.

 

   

 

Ian  initially carved four rugby balls from different naturally coloured woods; Ash, Cherry, Walnut and Tulip wood to give the client a choice. Eventually the rugby ball carved from Cherry was used for the Trophy.  The Tulip wood ball is shown here .

 

Further information 

 


 

 

'The National Game'

 

 

A full size ‘traditional' football carved from Ash and set upon a slab of carved Victory oak with an original 1966 Royal Mail ‘England Winner’ over print postage stamp attached.

Further information 

 


 

 

‘Nelson’s Pillow’

 

Lord Nelson’s ‘Life Mask’: This ‘life mask’ has been set upon a small section of original oak from Victory’s orlop deck where Lord Nelson was taken having been shot by a musket ball from a sniper high up in the rigging on the French ship Redoubtable during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

 

 

 

An original French musket ball similar to the calibre shot that felled Nelson. This musket ball which was later attached to the piece of decking was one of six musket balls found together in the muds at Rotherhithe alongside one of the French gun-carriages. One of these French gun carriages also recovered from the mud was then taken to the Mary Rose museum Portsmouth. These musket balls and gun carriages have been confirmed to be from one of the few Trafalgar prizes, survivors of the ‘great storm’ following the battle, then towed to Rotherhithe for salvage.

Further information 

 

 


 

‘Back in Time’

 

This unique collection created from a material that are very much older as his latest creation for the collection comes about to be worked on from one of the inhabitants of the British Isle’ and from a very much earlier period in time; the Jurassic period.

Ian found this 7-inch-long fossil many years ago on a beach whilst holidaying on the Isle of White and hidden away within this millions of years old Dinosaur bone from the Isle of White; was a Velociraptor, just waiting to be set free!  

 

 

 

A bone fossil from an early British inhabitant from the Jurassic period, set upon a slice of Fossilized Petrified Wood from Java (12 inches long)

 

To be continued - Further Sculptures include: -

 

‘Crown Jewels for the Iron Lady’

' Loose Cannon’

‘Goblets for a Gun Crew’

‘Heart of Oak’

‘Source of Victory’

‘Two over the Yard Arm’

Plus.

 


 

 

Sculptor Ian GB’s ‘milestone/turning point’ wood and bronze collection.

 

This unique collection will also include twenty of Sculptor Ian GB’s ‘milestone/turning point’ wood and bronze sculptures. These sculptures were part of the over three hundred and fifty both large and small marble-resin, wood, bronze and sterling silver sculptures along with various original carved plaster and wooden ‘master copies’ Ian has created during the past three decades.    

 

 

   

Ian’s first Crown, largest woodcarving, first Bronze 

 

This exhibition should also include Ian GB’s original ‘milestone - turning point’ wood and bronze sculptures. These sculptures were taken from the over three hundred and fifty mostly commissioned, marble, resin, wood, bronze and sterling silver both large and small sculptures Ian has created since 1984.

These sculptures include Ian’s first and second woodcarving he ever completed along with two of the first wildlife bas relief wood carvings. Two of the first and second series of bronze wildlife sculptures Ian produced. The first and second ‘wood turned’ item Ian ever made. Ian’s first and last life size Eagle in-flight one-piece woodcarving he intends creating. -  

Further information

 


 

 

A selection of plaster and wooden carved ‘master copies’ for castings in bronze and other materials. The original carved 18 inches high ‘Marsh Harrier in flight’, along with the virtually life size carved original ‘Mute Swan’ one-piece lime wood ‘master copy’ used to create the 8 feet high bronze version placed alongside Mirror Lake in Florida USA.

The full size ‘prototype’ carved, painted and gilded ‘The Kings Crown’. This Crown turned out to be the first of over one hundred thirty unique sculpture commissions to date, Ian has created since 1989 for the British Royal Household.

Further information 

 

 


 

 

Ian GB’s Early ‘Turning Point’ Wood and Bronze Sculptures.

 

This unique collection will also include twenty of Sculptor Ian GB’s ‘milestone/turning point’ wood and bronze sculptures. These sculptures were part of the over three hundred and fifty both large and small marble-resin, wood, bronze and sterling silver sculptures along with various original carved plaster and wooden ‘master copies’ Ian has created during the past three decades.

Ian’s sculptor career started late in life in 1984 at the age of 34. During the first few years he quickly made up for lost time and taught himself how to carve and cast using a variety of timbers in both bas-relief and three dimensions.

Normally artist early ‘experimental’ art work in a variety of materials are often simply thrown away over time as their skills and ideas progress and as they gain experience and expertise. In Ian’s case not wishing to throw anything away and with storage facilities close at hand, he often retained his ‘trial and error’, ‘learning curve’ and then simply forgot about them.

Although these were mostly ‘work in progress and turning point’ sculptures, as Ian was learning how to carve, nevertheless they were an indication to the direction and close attention to fine detail Ian aspired to from day one.

 


 

“I was never really interested in art at school and as a teenager the only thing I ever creative was to make small boats and aircraft using balsa wood or from plastic model kits. As far back as I can remember I never knew what I wanted to do when I left school. Although even at the age of 15, I was fully aware even at that age, work can take a sizable chunk out of your day although I ended up with many different jobs over the years trying to find one that actually agreed with me.

It was not until I was 26 years old when I resigned my position as assistant electronics engineer in a large company and went self-employed, designing, making and selling my own furniture which I had been producing from my shed in the back garden, when I finally discover what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Then in 1984 after building up a successful furniture making business with a full order book and plans underway to move into a much larger workshop close by and possibly take on staff to assist with the ever-increasing workload; fate decided otherwise.”

 


 

During the mid-1970’s Ian initially started making and selling his hand made rustic garden furniture and coffee tables from his garden shed, mainly using large slabs of elm which due to Dutch Elm disease was then cheap and in abundant supply in the UK. Formal looking dining room tables and chairs amongst other items of furniture soon followed.

Within four years of staring making his garden furniture, coffee tables and dining room tables; he progressed to custom made solid wood fitted kitchens, designing and fitting out pubs and wine bars and even producing the solid mahogany galley of a classic J class yacht, in a much larger workshop he moved into a few miles away. 

 

     

Ian’s first attempts at designing and making his own custom hand-made Garden furniture, Kitchens, Wine bars, Pubs and a Galley for a Classic J Class Yacht.

Then overnight in 1984 Ian’s workshop burnt down and such notions quickly vanished and  whilst scouring around in the remains trying to find anything salvageable he discovered a basic burnt outline shape of a leaping dolphin, which inspired him to try my hand at a new career as a woodcarver and sculptor.

 

 


 

The ‘Learning and Turning’ wood sculpture collection.

 

This original collection of Ian’s ‘Turning point and learning curve’ sculptures; includes the ‘First of a Kind’. Ian’s first and second woodcarving he ever completed in 1984.

 

‘First of a Kind’

 

Wood carving # 1 &2 'The Elm wood Dolphins and Otter' 6 and 8 inches high

 

Further information

 


 

Ian’s first and second larger one-piece woodcarvings.

 

The carved Serengeti Scene’ and ‘David’ both started around 1984/5 were worked on and off for a further few years but as both were merely training exercises and Ian learning how to use his newly acquired carving tools, they were shortly afterwards were abandoned unfinished.

“I found the detail such masters particularly Michelangelo's with his famous David sculpture, achieved in their work most inspiring and attempted to replicate the best I could with my limited ability. the scale, detail and proportions used by Michelangelo in creating ‘David’.

I thought I would try and make a copy of it as best I could at the time although I had only been carving for a year or so with my rather inadequate and newly discovered carving skills and a set of very second hand, but perfectly adequate wood gouges.

Particularly helpful to this ‘learning how to create a sculpture phase’ from within a solid block, was studying photographs of Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures, so I could try and get an idea at the early stage of how he creating his masterpieces from within solid marble block.

I then attempted to replicate his technique and proportions, as it turned out from somewhat with far less success in this case from a solid block of lime wood.

Working on these carvings particularly ‘David’ were at the time only meant to be a carving exercise and as far as ‘David’ was concerned if completed it could never be as expected from day one anything more than a rather amateur copy of someone else's rather special creation, but I had still learnt a lot on the way.

Although the chisels used to work marble are different than those used to carve wood, I found the technique used to carve from a solid block is rather similar.

Although the ‘Serengeti scene’ and ‘David’ both kept me busy as I taught myself how to carve, they had by then serviced their purpose and a few years later were simply abandoned unfinished as they remained thirty plus years later.

The ‘Serengeti scene’ was placed under a workbench in his studio. ‘David’ ended up at the bottom of my studio for over thirty years and simply left to collect dust and the odd accidental splatter of paint.

 

 

 ‘ David’ thirty plus years apart

 

The ‘Serengeti scene’ was often being worked in front of the television until the early hours after Ian finished work for the day.

 

 

 

Further information

 


 

Ian’s first attempts at carving from one-piece wildlife studies in bas-relief

 

The first and last of these series of six ‘experimental’ bas- relief carvings Ian has retained which are the ‘Family of Elephants’, the ‘Lion’ and Also included during this period is the Koalas, Sleeping Lioness and Tawny Owl’ and were all finished in the natural cedar wood colour.

 

The cedar wood logs relatively undamaged in the workshop fire

 

 

 

Elephant Family – 26 inches high - Lion – 30 inches high

 

 

   

Tawny owl 30 inches high -Sleeping Lioness 32 inches high-and Koala panels- 30 inches high

 

 

 

Further information

 

During the mid-80’s as Ian become more proficient using carving chisels and producing his sculptures mostly in one piece. It was basically the expense of obtaining large pieces of timber to work from prevented him from continuing with these larger pieces.

Then in 1987 after Hurricane force winds hit southern England Ian was presented with as massive lime trees he acquired for free. Some trees were donated if he simply “got them off the road”.  Much larger carving projects could then be worked as he continues to hone his newly acquired carving skills.

 

 

 

Although Ian does not consider these early experimental wood sculptures his finest work, they were the beginning of a totally unexpected and unintended new career as a professional sculptor, working in wood, marble resin, sterling silver and bronze.” 

 


 

Ian’s first and last life-size one-piece ‘Eagle in-flight’ woodcarvings

 

Ian’s first and potentially last life-size one-piece ‘Eagle in-flight’ woodcarvings, carved from cedar and lime wood.

 

 

Golden Eagle – cedar wood 36 inches wide

 

 

 

Bald Eagle 96 inches high

 

Ian’s first Eagle in flight, the life size Golden Eagle completed in 1988 and potentially his last one-piece Eagle; the life size Bald Eagle in-flight wood sculpture completed in 1991.

 

 

   

Various stages of the Bald Eagle in flight in ‘kit form’.

 

It then just took around three months to release the eagle from the trunk where it had been hiding away inside for over a century.

I found out from day with my first carving the small carved dolphin. If there was enough sound timber of the right size within the piece of available timber. I have not needed a drawing or sketch to work from, as I u usually just make a rough outline on the timber or tree trunk with a piece of chalk and cut around the outside and simply slice my way into the log with to release the rough outline of the sculpture. I then finish it off in my studio starting with chisels and finishing with a scalpel.

Both the Golden and Bald Eagle amongst many of Ian’s other sculptures were exhibited and also toured in 1990 throughout the year in Southern England by the Museum Service. The Bald Eagle was being carved at the time often being used for demonstration purposes at various exhibitions.

The Bald Eagle was sold in 1991 for a five-figure sum and two decades later Ian had the opportunity to purchase the Eagle back from the owner after deciding it would be the last full-size eagle, he intended carving from within such a massive tree trunk.

The tree itself was also rather unique in its own right as the tree had the large wide symmetrical branches as it enabled Ian to carve the one-piece Eagles in such a way with its body and base carved from within the trunk and the wings carved from within the two wide branches.

 

Further information

for further details and stages photographs of  the Bald Eagle sculpture from the tree to the completed sculpture; please click  here

 


 

A question of balance

 

With basic carving skills learnt, sometimes the hard way, other slightly smaller and more practical woodcarvings on the ‘wildlife’ theme followed. These particular series of larger sculptures now concentrating on balance still using these mostly donated ‘windblown’ trees.

A few examples of these ‘learning curve sculptures’ exploring and pushing the boundaries of balance which Ian worked on during the mid/end 1980’s.

 

   

Running Cheetah - cedar wood (36 inches long)    -    Spanish Lynx – cedar wood  (42 inches long) 

 

Three larger early ‘learning curve’ woodcarvings. The Running Cheetah - cedar wood (36 inches long) - Panther - lime wood (42 inches long) - Spanish Lynx – cedar wood (42 inches long)

Some of these early larger wood sculptures were molded and limited-edition were cast in bronze with the ‘Swimming Otter’ and ‘Leaping Panther’ were both carved from a single piece of English Walnut and the ‘Mute Swan protecting her Cygnets’ carved from within a large lime wood log.

 

 

The 45 inches high swimming otter walnut ‘master copy’ and a limited-edition bronze

 

 

      

The carved walnut Leaping Panther ’master copy’ and the limited-edition bronze

 

 


 

 

‘Swan protecting her Cygnets’ original woodcarving and bronze editions

 

This original lime wood Swan was then used to replica an 8 feet high version cast in bronze for Lakeland in Florida.

 

   

 

The original virtually life size carved original ‘Mute Swan’ one-piece lime wood ‘master copy’ was later used as the ‘Marquette’ for the 8 feet high clay and then bronze version now found alongside Mirror Lake in Florida.

 

   

 

Further Information

 


 

Ian’s first two attempts at wood turning.

 

A ‘small goblet turned from a piece of original oak from HMS Victory and a fruit bowl turned from Elm wood’.

 

 

When I first started woodcarving in my late thirties I had not used a wood turning lathe although at this stage in my woodcarving career it would have been rather helpful especially for producing the Crowns and Crest for the Royal Household which up to this stage were carved from within a solid block of lime wood.

However, after a work injury to my left hand which required hospital treatment including spending a few weeks ‘day release’ in the ‘occupational unit’ at the hospital. This unit contained a woodturning lathe and a kind member of staff who knew how to use it and was happy to show me.

The first object I turned on my own was a goblet from a piece of Victory oak and then the fruit bowl both off cuts from the timber I brought with me to the unit on each visit.

I then took various size wooden blanks in the unit in the morning and in the afternoon, took home with me potential crowns and coronets blanks for the future.

These included the first turned coronet rim I ever produced which was then used for the newly commissioned Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s Coronet.

After I was discharged from hospital; I purchased my own lathe.

 

   

 

The initially assembled coronet prior to a couple of alterations for Baroness Thatcher and the completed version prior to delivery to Windsor Castle.

 

Further Information

 


 

Editions of Ian’s first and second bronze wildlife sculptures.

 

The 10 inches long ‘Elephant and Calf’ and the 45 inches high ‘Swimming Otter’

 

 

 

Further Information

 


 

 

Ian’s first commission for the Royal Household.

 

The full size ‘prototype’ carved, painted and gilded ‘Kings Crown’ carved mostly from lime wood. This Crown turned out to be Ian’s first attempt of carving a Kings Crown for the Royal Household. This ‘prototype’ of what turned out to the first of over one hundred thirty unique wood and bronze sculpture commissions Ian has created for the British Royal Household during the past thirty years plus.

 

 

Ian’s first commission for a Knight of the Garter and Knight of the Bath

 

  

 

Original drawing from the Royal Household and Ian’s first carved painted and gilded Crown

 

 

 

The original working painting from the Royal household of his first commission in 1989; the 18 inches high Crown for the King of Spain.

Once this first crown commission was approved Ian produced another similar size Crown which was then placed in St George’s Chapel Windsor.  Thirty years later it can still be seen on display in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle alongside many dozens of other such sculptures he has also created.

This first ‘prototype’ carved crown Ian retained for future comparison and consistency purposes. Now placed in his studio to ensure future Crowns, Coronets and Knights Crests were off a similar size.

 

Further Information

 


 

 

Ian’s first and second and only paintings and first and his only 'experimental working’ sketch' and his first and to date only limited edition prints.

 

The only examples of Ian’s water-colour painting he has ever produced are these two paintings of motorcycles when he was 18 years old. Ian painted them both when he had both his Arms in plaster after a crash on his Triumph Bonneville, to try and relieve the boredom waiting for his broken wrists and arm to mend.

They were painted on two sheets of A3 paper using a tin of water colour paints provided by his mother ‘for something to do’ in his ‘spare’ time.

 

 

 

The only other painting as such Ian has ever produced is the outline image of Princess Dianna’s ‘Family Seat’ he painted in oils exactly 50 years later. 

The Lion drawing was sketch by Ian in 1985 from an image he spotted in a magazine but Ian would be the first to admit he is not a natural painter or sketcher and as he could usually just  see the image in bas-relief or three dimensions hiding away inside the block of material, he felt it took him almost as long to try and sketch the image accurately than actually carve the sculpture, so decided not to bother in future.  

So apart from one or two mush smaller outline sketches he was asked to produced, this finished A3 size Lion sketch is the only one he has completed. Ian doesn’t need produce anything more than a rough outline drawing of any potential sculpture as once he researching the subject beforehand, he can retain the image in his mind’s eye, so to speak and simply gets on with carving it.

 

 

 


 

This limited-edition print 'Sailing to Victory' is the only print that Ian has produced with 470 potential editions being produced worldwide.

 

 

The 'Sailing to Victory' print features the Victory sculpture carved by Ian G.B and has been specially produced on fine quality art paper using the sophisticated giclée type of printing process.

 The image of the Victory was taken at the earlier stage of carving and was incorporated on an image taken offshore at Portsmouth where HMS Victory set sail in September 1805 heading towards Cape Trafalgar.

 

 

These 470 signed and numbered prints in total were to be produced in three different sizes. (9 ½, 14 ½ & 23 ¼ inches high)

The first editions and Artist Copies in all three sizes were retained, along with edition numbers; 01, 02 and 03.

Further Information

 


 

 

 

Marquette’s and master copies

Sculptors often spend many hours, weeks and sometimes months produce and perfecting the Marquette and or full-size version of the sculpture he is working on. Mostly using plaster or clay and once this original Marquette or full-size version is finished, it is delivered to the art foundry, molded and the actual physical sculpture itself, for the most part, is then recreated by the highly skilled foundry staff who then replicates the artists original conception in bronze.

However these original sculpted ‘master copies’ which the artist has physically worked on from day one; the sculpture all their effort thoughts and concentration have been put into, once molded is often simply disposed of, or in the case of clay, broken up and the clay reused on another sculpture and the artists original unique handmade artistic creation has vanished forever.

However, Ian basically being a carver rarely uses clay to produce his ‘master copy’ as he much prefers when possible to carved directly from plaster, resin, or  directly from a solid block of wood. Ian then carefully, bit by bit slowly releases the proposed sculpture in all its fine detail as the original ‘master copy’. This ‘master copy’ can then be molded without damaging it and then retained as a unique sculpture.

Ian also finds he can achieve far better detail working directly carving wood, plaster and resin especially in the case of smaller sculptures like the Marsh Harrier with these narrow 8 inches long wings rather than the soft clay.

 

     

 

Examples of Ian’s early ‘Marsh Harrier’ sculptures prior to staining and finishing and the completed solid silver casting along with a solid resin reworked carving of a Knight on horseback, Ian has also retained decades.

Although the clay ‘Elephants Ian originally modelled in clay decades ago, has long gone, the bronze replica’s, one of Ian’s first ever edition of a wildlife bronze, he has retained.

 

 

The original clay Elephant and calf along with the bronze limited edition  

 

Clay and plaster do however have their advantages over wood and stone if you happen to make a mistake or decide to change the design as you go along. You can then simply add or remove clay or plaster and rework it again and again, unlike carving directly from stone or wood as you have to get it right first time, every time.

But when you do these original wood or stone sculptures or potential ‘master copy’ ‘the sculptor has actually physically worked on from day one; the sculpture; all their effort thoughts and concentration have been put into; once molded’ can then be retained as a unique, physically actually handmade free standing unique sculpture, in its own right.

 


 

Various retained ‘Marquette, master copies’ and potential ‘master copies’

 

A selection of various master copies’ and potential ‘master copies’ Ian has retained over the decades, all carved from plaster, resin and wood, for potential various marble ‘resin, sterling silver and bronze sculptures.

These include both small and larger original woodcarvings, plaster and wax ‘master copies’ Ian has worked on many of which were molded and cast in a variety of different materials.

Large and small wildlife sculptures all carved in fine detail in three dimensions from wood, to the Royal Arms carved in in high bas-relief from plaster, 14 inches high.

 

   

The 18 inches high solid plaster Royal Arms- A gilded marble/resin version and a 14 inches high bronze version prior to finishing.

 


 

The pair of small Japanese Emperor Crest ‘Marquette’

 

The original 7 inches high carved wooden ‘master copy ‘and the first bronze casting. This was a smaller version of the large carving Ian was commissioned to cave and gild for Emperor Akihito of Japan which was then placed on display in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

 

 

Emperor Akihito carved and gilded Royal Crest in Ian's studio and St George's Chapel

 


 

 

The life size early bronze Bald Eagle Podium shown below as an example of a commissioned eagle podium. The ‘Marquette’, Master Copy and the finished Bronze casting.

After molding the original Ian would sometimes make slight changes or add further detail in the wax version and then it was cast in bronze or silver.

An early full-size bronze Bald Eagle Podium shown below as an example of a commissioned Eagle Podium.

 

   

 A 10 inches high bronze ‘Marquette’, the carved lime wood full ‘master copy’ and original finished oak and bronze casting

 

 


 

Ian’s early small ‘Master copies and Marquette’s.

Many of these small bronze wildlife sculptures were produced in the early 1990’s. However, as commissions were keeping Ian so busy as he concentrates on commissions, the smaller, wooden, resin, or directly modelled wax sculptures he had been working on were abandoned.

However, as some of these originals were carved directly from wax and often ended up getting damaged in his workshop or simply melted down and the wax reused, the original sculpture and all the hours spent on it was lost. Some of the other smaller sculptures were initially carved from wood or plaster and then molded and cast in bronze.

 

   

 

The original carved 12 inches high wooden eagle ‘master copy’ along with the first bronze castings and the 9 inches high bronze ‘Global Warming’ Marquette.

In the case of small bronzes like these especially in the early days, in an attempt to save the cost, Ian not only produces the original sculpture ‘master copy’, but tends to do for the most part all the foundry work himself, including making the mold, produce the wax replica, adding this replica and the wax sprue’s to the wax ‘tree’ and adding right through the whole foundry process to chasing and finishing the bronze castings, even including on occasions actually poring the molten bronze into the ceramic mold itself.

However, during the past decade or so as Ian tended to concentrate more of his time and energy on wood carving, which is still were the majority of his commissions and creating his own  projects, such as the Victory Sculpture and the ‘Spirit of Britons’ Collection’s, so working on these small bronze were put to one side and working on commissions, he was simply unable to find the time to finish many of these smaller bronze limited editions, ‘master copies’ and ‘Marquette’s’ are in his studio still awaiting finishing over a decade later.

 

 

These include smaller bronze limited editions, ‘Master Copies’ and ‘Marquette’s’ such as a 3 inches high Lion catching a Zebra, to a small Afghan Hound. A pair of Kingfishers and bronze cannon barrels to a life mask of Lord Nelson. A pair of both small and larger Marsh Harriers in flight, a Thresher Shark, various Eagles, Otters and Elephants. A Welsh Dragon and Royal Lion of England bronzes, to the first small bronze casting of the Royal Coat of Arms, all awaiting chasing and finishing.

Although Ian may we no long have the time to chase and finish all of this early collection of over 40 small bronze castings built up over the decades himself, a typical good art foundry’s chaser would no doubt be more than capable of doing so, given a month or three.

 


 

 

To Be Continued:

 


 

 

 

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Ian G Brennan - www.iangb.com - - ian@iangb.com

 


 

 

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