I thought I knew my dog breeds. But when a client from Germany got in touch to see if I’d like to sculpt her Azawakh dog, I had to look it up! It’s not often that I’m challenged quite like this. I knew at once that I wanted to make an Azawakh dog sculpture.
Named after the Azawakh valley in the Sahel region of the Sahara Desert, the proud and elegant Azawakh has long been a guardian, hunter, and companion to tribes in that region. They are what’s called a landrace – dogs bred specifically to suit a precise location.
In the case of the Azawakh, this means a dog tolerant of high temperatures and high speed. The breed has traveled with nomadic tribes like the Tuareg in modern-day Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, an ancestry spanning more than a thousand years. Archaeologists have even uncovered rare 8,000-10,000 year old petroglyph rock art featuring long, slim dogs running alongside their hunter owners.
The Azawakh dog sculpture I would make for my client would be of her magnificent dog Ghalia Kel-es-Suf. She was able to provide me with excellent photographic material to work from. After some discussion, we decided I should sculpt Ghalia in motion. We both agreed this would capture the quintessential elegance of the breed and Ghalia’s gentle but focussed expression.
Due to the slender proportions of the animal’s legs and tail, the Azawakh dog sculpture would have to be cast in bronze. The technique for this type of bronze sculpture is different from ceramic. I start with a wire armature that supports porcelain paperclay.
This technique can’t be used for ceramic sculpture that’s fired in a kiln. But it’s ideal for bronze casting and would allow me to achieve the structural strength I would need to support Ghalia’s slender frame in motion.
Thirty years’ experience modelling animals has given me a pretty sound understanding of dog anatomy. But Azawakhs are naturally very slim, long legged and short coated. Every muscle and sinew is visible. I had to study the breed in great detail to ensure I would be able to recreate this in the finished sculpture.
As with all my animal sculpture commissions, I sent the client regular photo updates by email. Clients always tell me how much they appreciate having input into their sculpture. It enables them to engage fully with the process, providing valuable feedback as the sculpture progresses.
The sculpture is so beautiful. I`m absolutely speechless. It’s so so fantastic. It’s grandios! It’s wow!
Once the client had signed off the clay sculpture it was taken to Castle Fine Art Foundry in Stroud to be moulded. I personality refine the wax cast before the foundry commits to the final bronze casting. The final stages are refining the metalwork and patination.
Azawakh is released in a limited edition of just nine pieces and is available now on general release. Price is £5,495 excluding VAT or £6,580 including VAT at 20%. Full details can be found on the Buy page or contact the studio for more information.