Regular readers will know that I recently returned from an art safari workshop in Borneo. Observing animals in the wild, where you can see how they move and interact with their surroundings, is always a very inspiring experience, and I was excited to see what Bornean animal sculptures I would create.
The first of my Bornean animal sculptures is the binturong, surely one of the most unusual animals I have ever sculpted. The binturong, at over five feet long, is the largest of the arboreal civet family. It has a thick woolly coat, a prehensile tail, distinctive protruding eyes and wonderful tufts on its ears.
Although I never got close enough to photograph one, I was lucky enough to see two binturongs feeding on fruit high up in the tree canopy. They are very sculptural subjects and I was keen to explore the beautiful shapes they create with their bodies and tails, using a suitably shaped piece of driftwood to convey how they interact with their environment.
The Bornean bearded pig is an animal we encountered most days rooting around the staff quarters. However, it is an endangered species, so I was keen to raise awareness of these curious looking creatures through my animal sculptures.
The bearded pig has startlingly pale blue husky-like eyes. Underneath the usual coating of mud it is orangey brown in colour. The beard, which grows vertically, is of course its defining feature. I used horse hair to ensure my pig had a suitably bushy beard.
This particular frog sculpture actually came with me to Borneo to be auctioned at a charity fundraiser in aid of orang-utan conservation. My friend and workshop co-leader, Nick Garbutt, found a baby horned frog during our visit, so I was able to photography my frog sculpture alongside the real thing (below)!
I hope you have enjoyed exploring my Bornean animal sculptures as much as I enjoyed making them. The binturong sculpture and bearded pig sculpture will feature in the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) Natural Eye Exhibition in The Mall Galleries, London from 19 to 29 October 2017.
My next art safari workshop will run for ten days in India’s Pench and Kanha National Parks, which rank among the very best places in the world to see tigers. Please see my workshop page if you would like to join award-winning wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt and me on this very special adventure in March 2018.