Coming up this autumn we have Modern and Contemporary Art auction on 25 October. We are pleased to be offering four large-scale sculptures by British wildlife sculptor Hamish Mackie, and this summer offers the opportunity to view these wonderful works in our outdoor exhibition Sculpture by Hamish Mackie, before they go to new homes.
Visit the beautiful gardens at Donnington Priory from July - October (Monday-Friday: 10am-4pm) to see these wonderful pieces in situ, and read on to learn more about Hamish's career and the process that went into creating these sculptures.
Born in 1973, the family spent the first few years of Hamish’s life between Hong Kong and the UK with his father’s job in the British Army, before settling on a livestock farm in Cornwall. He attended Falmouth School of Art and studied design at Kingston University before focussing full time on sculpture from the mid-1990s.
Hamish’s sculptures are his own interpretation, not merely photographic representations and aim to convey the inner core, strength, and grace of his subject. His subject matter is broad and diverse, ranging from British birds and farm animals to African wildlife and North American moose. His working process always starts off with an accurate anatomical rendering of the body, highlighting the muscle groups that form the base of the structure before layering over a loose skin which allows the sculpture to retain its visceral core. In this way, the works capture instinctive moments of animal behaviour and are never static, they are imbued with an innate energy, as if suspended in a perpetual state of movement.
“His work is immediately recognisable: the textured surfaces, the twisting bodies, the sense of movement; the extraordinary attention to detail. There is a feeling of a moment being captures, an aliveness that gives his sculptures their unique dynamism and character. They have a disarming beauty, a palpable present.”
~ Will Gompertz, Art Critic.
“You should be able to look wildlife sculpture in the eye and see life.”
Hamish’s work has taken him all over the world to study the animals he sculpts. An in-depth knowledge and understanding of his subject is key to his working practice and every projects begins with a field trip to study the animals in their natural habitat. Immersing himself in the environment and, as far as possible, getting up close in order to study his subject is essential in understanding both the physiognomy as well as the character of an animal. The latter is as important to Hamish as the physical features he seeks to portray. Hamish’s research has led him to travel as far afield as the Antarctic, Canada, Russia, the Middle East, Australia and India as well as across Europe.
“I have made several research trips to the UAE. For me there is something mesmerising and spellbindingly beautiful about the desert.”
Following his studies, Hamish spent time travelling across Africa and in 1995, by the misfortune of breaking down en route to explore northern Kenya, Hamish ended up camping at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Here Hamish got involved with relocating black rhino and wild dog. This allowed him to observe the wildlife at close quarters and ignited a desire to pursue a full-time career in sculpture, initially working from life in locally sourced beeswax. He was particularly interested in the different behaviours displayed by animals in captivity compared to those in the wild. Leopard Climbing a Tree is a brilliant example of Hamish’s use of spontaneous, often unrepeatable, fluid gestures. This assertive handling of his materials, coupled with an acute understanding of anatomy, results in strong, dynamic, ‘living’ sculptures.
Hamish also has an enduring passion for conservation and is a dedicated support of TUSK and other conservation charities.
“It is this direct contact Hamish has with his subject that gives his sculptures their veracity and power. He is there. He isn’t just seeing, he is feeling. And that feeling, that sensation transmits from a Mackie sculpture to us the viewer. It is unmistakeable and unforgettable.”
Will Gompertz, 2020
Commissions, both private and public, form a significant part of Hamish’s work. One of the most prestigious of these was for the Berkeley Group Holdings development in Goodman’s Fields in the City of London. For this major public art commission, Hamish was charged with producing six life and quarter size horses running throughout the pedestrianised plaza. The sculptures were unveiled in 2015 to much critical acclaim and, in 2016, the artist was awarded the Public Monuments & Sculptures Association’s Marsh Award for excellence in public sculpture and fountains.
The artist was awarded the Public Monuments & Sculptures Association’s Marsh Award for excellence in public sculpture and fountains with this sculpture for the Berkeley Group Holdings development in Goodman’s Fields in the City of London.
Now On View at Dreweatts
The four works included in the current exhibition and sale at Dreweatts represent a cross-section of Hamish’s work. Each with its own story and inspiration, the group exemplifies his mastery of the sculpted form. All four sculptures are lost wax cast into museum quality bronze in the UK. Hamish’s love of animals and the natural world shines through and the care and attention given to each individual mark made in the clay and then reinterpreted in bronze leaves the viewer in no doubt of the brilliance of each piece.
LEOPARD CLIMBING A TREE, Bronze, Signed, dated 2010 and numbered 4/12, 260 x 127 x 110cm (102¼ x 50 x 43¼ in.) Est. £25,000-35,000 (+ fees)
Largely self-taught, his style is unique – he frequently works in spontaneous, often unrepeatable, fluid gestures with a confidence born from many years of mastering his craft. This assertive handling of his materials, coupled with an acute understanding of anatomy, results in strong, dynamic, ‘living’ sculptures, as seen in Leopard Climbing Tree Life Size 2008. As Stephen Moss, Author and Naturalist explains “Yet like all great art, this is an illusion. There are no deer, hares, or woodcock; simply bronze, fashioned into these memorable moments caught in time, yet lasting for eternity. It is a kind of magic: yet magic in a tangible form, pleasing our sight and our sense of touch.”
BULL HEAD, Bronze, Signed, dated 2011 and numbered 5/12, 102 x 97 x 82cm (40 x 38 x 32¼ in.) Est. £8,000-12,000 (+ fees)
Getting the placement of a sculpture in a landscape such as Bull Head Large 2011 is critical, as John Wyer from Bowles and Wyer said “Sometimes, the landscape comes first – there may be a spot that cries out for a piece of art. Perhaps it is a restful glade where we want something contemplative, calming. It may be a focal point, the head of a long view or confluence of paths. Here we might seek something more powerful or majestic.
"At other times, it is the piece of sculpture that comes first. We see something that speaks to us, that reaches inside and affects us in some way that is difficult to put into words. It may stoke a reaction such as excitement, movement, majesty, or peace. Or perhaps the work simply invokes a feeling of oneness with nature.”
CAMEL, Bronze, Signed, dated 2013 and numbered 1/9, 217 x 307 x 65cm (85¼ x 120¾ x 25¾ in.)
Est. £40,000-60,000 (+ fees)
Hamish has had the privilege of observing wildlife in many corners of the world at first hand and it was research for a potentially monumental commission that spurred a trip to the UAE in 2013. “I have made several research trips to the U.A.E. For me there is something mesmerising and spellbindingly beautiful about the desert. In 2013, with the help of Dr. Lulu Skidmore, I studied the camels at the Dubai Camel Research Centre for a potentially monumental camel commission.” Small maquettes of camel were sculpted directly from life on this trip, and it was these maquettes that enabled Hamish to sculpt the subject’s attitude and disposition you see in the Camel Life Size 2013.
AMMONITE CRETACEOUS, Bronze, Signed, dated 2018 and numbered 1/9, 178 x 134 x 82cm (70 x 52¾ x 32¼ in.)
Est. £35,000-45,000 (+ fees)
As Hamish himself says, “For wildlife artists and sculptors like me, the natural world is what inspires our work”. As well as his sculptures of animals, you also see this connection with nature in his Ammonite Cretaceous 2018 which was inspired not only by happy memories of fossil hunting on the Jurassic coastline, but also by the desire to create a contemporary artwork based on an ancient object, millions of years old and a naturally occurring example of the Fibonacci Sequence or the Golden Ration.
View page turning catalogue
Modern and Contemporary Art
Wednesday 25 October, 10.30am BST
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
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- On View At Donnington Priory | July - October 2023
- Monday to Friday: 10am – 4pm
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