We delve into the key inspirations that have shaped the career of sculptor, Charles Elliott
I discovered I had a talent for sculpting by trial and error. I always liked breaking down the anatomy, muscles and proportions of animals then sketching them before creating them out of the material I’d chosen. I was told by my teacher “art is 80% observation and 20% sculpting” and it’s something I definitely believe in even now.
With a fairly artistic family background I was encouraged and supported. My uncle is a blacksmith and we used to tinker in his workshop as children. I always had a passion for art and found my way through school by being “arty”- I did GSCE & A-level Art, but the rest is all self-taught, by trial and error, watching others, listening and asking the appropriate questions when needed to make sure I now provide the best outcome for our clients with my team. I feel the way I have done it has taken me on a journey rather than being told how to do it – so I guess I’m a little more open minded and a daring sculptor.
One Christmas I decided to sneak off to my uncle’s workshop for a break from the family and festivities and thought I would try to make something. We had a skip full of old horseshoes from my brother and the local farriers and I thought an “upcycled sculpture” would be a great start. We live close to Ashridge National Trust Estate and the stags up there have always been the talking point in the local towns, so I thought I would give it my best shot – even I was shocked by the first outcome! I popped it on social media when I had finished and it was sold within the week! It fuelled me to get more creative.
I have been brought up around horses and my mother encouraged us as kids to give it a go. I was even a member of our local Pony Club branch as a child for many years with my infamous pony Cheesy Cracker! Horses just amaze me, how they have literally served our country from working the streets of London, farming the land to working alongside our armies in the war. For thousands of years they’ve been a part of our very important British history.
My favourite time is when I get to work in my Hertfordshire studio. Once we have had all the conversations with the customer I will sit and brainstorm for a few days, analyse the animal in question if there is one and do some research into their anatomy, muscle forms and confirmation. Then it’s pen to paper to sketch it. I will do a few different stances and styles when it comes to the animals, and with the contemporary or abstract pieces I’ll work on the movement in a few different ways. Once the client is happy and has picked the favourite, I then go to the steel “blackboard” floor where I sketch it to scale on the floor in chalk to check it’s all correct… then it’s time to start the build!
My aim was to always try to create sculpture to suit the area in which the clients requested it to be in. I love the variety that I’m able to create, which enables me to create for garden space, outdoor areas, public art, stately country homes to town houses and everything else in between.
I am often asked what my favourite piece of work is. I can’t pick just one if I’m being very honest. I absolutely love our Bronze Horse Head, which is currently on show at FORM Sculpture Exhibition at Sculpture by the Lakes – it has a different energy about it, you can almost feel war horse emotion from it and has encouraged me to continuing pushing me.
I hope to create monumental public art sculptures that can be cherished for hundreds of years for many generations to enjoy. Myself and my fiancé Sammy hope to have our own sculpture parks and galleries to exhibit our sculptures and other artists’ work, this would be open to people all over the world to see and enjoy. I’d also really like to open up opportunities to young artists and sculptors to allow them to come to us to learn different methods and express their creativity.