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14 Questions with…Sculptor, Hamish Mackie

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14 Questions with…Sculptor, Hamish Mackie

Finessing the wisps of course rough hair that signify a young male boar known as a Keiler, Hamish Mackie sculpts two life sized Wild Boar each weighing 185 kilograms that form part of a Sounder, at his Oxfordshire studio. Wildboar are one of the most wide ranging and invasive mammals in the world, with more than 10 million in the EU alone and a Belgian client invited the sculptor who creates accurate portrayals of animals he witnesses, to sculpt a Sounder, made up of a matriarchal sow with this years piglets as well as a boar and piglets from the previous season.©Russell Sach - 0771 882 6138

Are you seeking to enhance your landscape? Sculptures can serve as captivating focal points in gardens and estates, adding a sense of grandeur. They can also be strategically placed to infuse movement and vitality into our surroundings. If you’re aiming to capture the allure of wildlife from around the globe, consider the work of the exceptionally talented sculptor, Hamish Mackie.

Mastering the art of sculpture over many years, Hamish’s exquisite pieces can transform your landscape. His sculptures have the power to transport you to the vast plains of Africa, the rugged wilderness of Canada or the quaint charm of the English countryside. From the inquisitive foraging of a badger to the expressive twitch of a bunny’s ears in the grass, Mackie’s creations encapsulate the essence of nature’s beauty with remarkable precision and considerable character.

Curious to take a peek behind the scenes and delve into the daily life and creative process of a sculptor?

Discover the inspiration behind his work, moments that have left a lasting impression, and gain valuable insights and advice for aspiring artisans exploring the craft.

1. Can you tell us about your background and journey as a sculptor? How did you first become interested in sculpture?

I grew up on a livestock farm in Cornwall, so had a very happy, outdoorsy childhood, surrounded by nature. My father had been in the army which I later failed to join. I’d always enjoyed making things and did a degree in furniture and product design. Sculpting wasn’t the normal career path, but after being inspired by helping relocate black rhino and wild dog in Kenya, I had to give it a go.

2. Could you describe your creative process? How do you approach a new sculpture from concept to completion?

I research my subject thoroughly before starting anything. I’m not a big draughtsman (which I regret), but usually have an idea in my head. I make my armatures which are anatomically correct, articulating the joints so that rather than rubbing out work on paper, I simply can bend a model into the stance that I want.

3. If you had to choose some of your favourite projects from over your career, what would they be and why? Your sculptures often depict animals. What inspired you to focus on this subject matter?

I am predominantly known as a wildlife sculptor, but I’m up for any sculptural challenge. It’s great to push comfort zones and it’s hard not to be pigeonholed. 

Otters, cheetah, elephant, hares, Roe deer and cattle are my favourite subjects. Otters because they are so twisty. Cheetahs because they are so lithe, elephants are powerful, roe deer due to their stature and cattle, simply because they were part of my childhood. I’d struggle to narrow it down to one favourite but being around elephant is special.

4. What has been the most memorable experience or moment from your career?

Being chased up a tree by a black rhino in Northern Kenya.

5. Are there any artists or sculptors who have influenced or inspired your work? If so, how have they impacted your artistic style or approach?

Mankind has been making art since the dawn of time. All artists are influenced, sometimes subconsciously, by others. My contemporary inspirations include Rodin, Kenworthy, Lewis and Coreth.

6. How do you navigate challenges or setbacks during the sculpting process? 

I often think sculpting is about problem-solving; you have to keep going until it’s right, even if that means chopping the head off and starting again.

7. Has a particular experience left a lasting impression on you or influenced your approach to your craft?

I had a great art teacher at school who always encouraged me.

8. What impact do you aim for your sculptures to have on the landscape and gardens where they are installed?

Sometimes the landscape will be crying out for a sculpture, other times the piece of sculpture comes first. Either way, sculpture should enhance the garden and bring a range of emotions to the on-looker.

9. Why do you think it is important to have handmade creations, such as your own, throughout both our gardens and our homes? 

Collecting has been in our psyche since the dawn of mankind. Sculpture placement in a garden or home is very personal and therefore a reflection of self or provocation to thought.  

10. If you had friends visiting the Cotswolds for 48 hours, what hidden gems would you recommend they visit? Where to eat, stay, play and shop? Any favourite places to visit that are off the beaten track? 

I live in Hook Norton which is a great base for exploring the Cotswolds. Locally there are some fantastic gardens, pubs and of course the Hook Norton Brewery – not sure if 48 hours gives you enough time.

11. What is the wildest creation you’ve ever made or been asked to make? 

I have recently made six life-size wolves for a client in Maine.

12. So, how does a sculptor relax after a hard day of creation?

Although subconsciously sculptors are continually making thousands of decisions I find sculpting relaxing; time just disappears. 

13. You have travelled across the world to inspire your craft, which has been your favourite destination and why?

Once Africa is under the skin it always draws.

14. Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring sculptors or artists who are just starting their creative journey?

Stick at it.

With thanks to Hamish for his time and for providing all images. Head over to his Instagram page @hamishmackiesculpture and website to find more of his latest works. 

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