On my last art safari to Zambia I was inspired by the spectacle of three seated giraffes in a clearing. I knew at once I had to capture this in clay. Giraffes are full of grace – even when preening themselves! I wanted to explore the behaviour of these peaceful creatures and to show one moment in time. With their ears back and heads slightly dipped, the giraffes are relaxed. Only one is stirring to tend to an itch. The pleasing shapes of giraffe necks are a gift to an artist and I’m sure I will be making more giraffe sculptures soon.
It’s important for me to spend time studying the proportions and anatomy of my subjects. Here I needed to familiarise myself with the correct markings of the Thornicroft giraffe. During my trips to Africa I have observed them extensively in the wild. I took plenty of photographs although, as you can see from the snap below, sometimes I was distracted by dung beetles!
Once the giraffe sculptures were fired I set to applying the glaze. First I painted on the brown markings in the correct pattern and formation. After that the white glaze has to be painted around all the markings. It took me about 12 hours to glaze all three giraffe sculptures. Inspired by what I had seen in Africa, I wanted to display all three giraffe sculptures together. This adds another layer of complexity, as the different shapes must all work together and from different angles. However, it’s good to challenge myself and the end result can be very satisfying.