Many of my clients commission an animal sculpture to commemorate a recently deceased pet, such as this recently completed Sloughi dog sculpture. These memorial sculptures are amongst the most difficult I undertake. I have to rely solely on the client’s photos, with no possibility of obtaining any views of the animal that may be missing. And, of course, this type of commission is bound up with a lot of emotion. But through it all, I can always see the wonderful life the dog has led and the bond formed between human and animal. As ever, it’s this emotional connection that informs the creative process.
I was contacted recently by a leading Sloughi dog breeder in the USA. Sloughis are a rare breed here in the UK and one I’ve yet to meet. I was struck by the animal’s graceful lines and gentle expression. An animal like this, which always seem to strike an elegant and pleasing pose, is a joy to sculpt. My client showed me a photo of Amir lying with his head on one leg, creating a very pleasing curve. My client agreed this was the pose we should use for her Sloughi dog sculpture.
The Arabian Greyhound
The ancient Sloughi, nicknamed the Arabian Greyhound, is a lean, swift coursing hound known to have hunted a variety of game in the deserts of North Africa. A classic sighthound, the Sloughi is regally aloof with strangers and gentle with loved ones. The Sloughi (SLOO-ghee) is a classically constructed sighthound of ancient lineage, originally bred to work on such game as hare, fox, jackal, gazelle and wild pigs on the punishing terrain of its homeland. He is a lean, no-frills hound.
As with all my commissions, I sent regular photo updates to the client so she could see my progress as the Sloughi dog sculpture slowly come to life. This allows the client a unique input into the creative process while also affording the opportunity to correct any details that I haven’t been able to observe accurately from the limited photographic source material.
I showed video and photos to my hubby, he right away said, “That’s Amir,” with a smile.
Once the sculpture was finished I had the difficult task of capturing Amir’s stunning markings. I carefully built up layers of underglaze and a gentle Raku firing was employed to achieve the final finish. I was very pleased with the result.
Amir was then packed securely for his long flight across the pond. I use a series of strategically placed pads to absorb any impacts, followed by a layers of bubblewrap. The piece is then floated in biodegradable loosefill, sealed in a box which is suspended in an outer box. It’s a laborious process and one I always do myself to ensure the sculpture is as secure as possible in transit. Amir arrived safely at his new home a week later. Please contact the studio if you are interested in commissioning your own animal sculpture.