I am excited to show the first images from a recent collaboration with fellow artist Jason deCaires Taylor. I designed and sculpted the four Shire horses with oil-pump heads for Jason’s installation The Rising Tide currently installed on the Southbank of the Thames, right outside the MI6 building (for all you James Bond and secretive intelligence agency fans out there).
The piece is a powerful commentary on man’s relationship with the environment. Throughout the day the sculptures are submerged and revealed as the tide cycle waxes and wanes. As a long-time scuba diver I am delighted by Jason’s epic underwater works, so it was a pleasure collaborating with him on this piece.
My work on the piece involved the design and digital sculpting of the 18-hand tall Shire horses. Interestingly, over the past few years I have sculpted quite a few horses. First my centaur, then work on Mark Wallinger’s White Horse (also installed in London), followed by the horses for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, and now these petrochemical Shires.
I recently kicked off a series of pastblast posts digging up old but interesting projects that I didn’t have time to write about when they were happening. One of the most interesting and enjoyable visual effects projects that I have worked on is Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of War Horse.
The story follows Joey, a farm horse in rural England, onto the battlefields of World War I. Being a war story, you can imagine there are a few upsets along the way, and Joey inevitably finds himself in very dangerous circumstances – circumstances too dangerous in fact for real ‘horse actors’. Cue our digital Joey.
CREATING THE DIGITAL JOEY
Our digital horse stretching his legs
The White Horse is finally installed in London. This is the project of artist Mark Wallinger and was originally planned as a towering 50m tall horse (as tall as the Statue of Liberty) to be erected in the countryside of Kent and visible from the Eurostar. But around the big crash, arts budgets downsized and so did the scale of the horse. Now it is only a very average ‘life-sized’, but it is still striking in its crisp white finish and realism. About a year ago I worked with the team from Sample & Hold to refine the digital version of the horse, based on a scan of Mark’s actual horse. I spent time adding anatomical accuracy and life to the head, face, legs, and hooves (at the time my horse skills were primed, having just finished Spielberg’s War Horse).
After a bit of massaging the data was sent off for fabrication. Through a combination of 3d printing, CNC machining, and casting, the piece was brought to life – albeit at a scale smaller than originally intended. But if you are in London and want to check it out, it will be on display on the Mall (just off Trafalgar Square) for two years.