Over the years I have completed a number of portraits, both as commissions or for my own interest. These two clay heads below are of well known film actors, Dominic Cooper and Dan Stevens, who were staying in Lamorna during filming of an Edwardian costume drama. Below these is a life-sized bronze full figure portrait of 11-year-old George Heathcote.
George Heathcote, life-sized bronze
St Just and Pendeen Memorial to Cornish Hard Rock Miners
My involvement in this memorial began shortly after my move to Cornwall, when it was announced that the selection of a design would be put before the people of the former St Just Mining District. I wanted to be involved because when I was a 17-year-old art student, who happened to collect rocks and minerals, I had the rare opportunity of being taken 1500 feet underground on the night shift with one of the working miners. It was a profound experience that I shall never forget. Following a hair-raising descent in a four man cage down the Skip Shaft at Levant Mine, I was taken first to the level just below the sea bed, where one could hear boulders being moved about by strong currents only feet above our heads. Then back in the cage, to descend to the sweltering depths of this man's workings where a tunnel was being driven through to Geevor Mine not far away. Wherever we went, the conditions were cramped, filthy and unbelievably hot.
The brief for the statue was for a "modern miner with a rock drill" but my enduring memory from all those years earlier was of the quality of the men, not the technology that made their jobs easier: it was their toughness and wicked sense of humour as we sat on boxes of explosive with NO SMOKING signs everywhere, them teasing me mercilessly as they lit cigarettes and played with dynamite while eating pasties. I spoke to local people, to find out how they thought their miner should be portrayed, and nearly all said, "with a miner's pick". I realised then that this was the tool that united miners through the centuries. I also soon discovered that most of the fatalities underground were amongst the 'diggers'; the men whose job it was to help clear rock from the stopes after blasting. So I decided to go against the brief and subsequently won the vote. As the project evolved, I realised that a statue was only part of the story, and that the pioneering spirit of Cornish mining families who took their experience and technological skills to every corner of the world, also needed to be represented. That's where the garden, which I speak about on another page, came into being. Click here for more info
This project was
entirely funded by the communities of St Just and Pendeen, for the
community, and driven by the tireless efforts of a small committee of
volunteers over a number of years. It has only been by their
enthusiasm and commitment that numerous others have also volunteered
their time, skill, knowledge, materials and resources to help make
all this happen; from metal fabricators, stone masons, digger and
crane operatives to RHS Chelsea gold medal winning local nurseries
(Penberth Plants and Kelnan Plants) with generous donations of plants
and knowledge. Most of the money has been raised through local
activities including, choir and silver band concerts, an art auction,
a dare-devil extravaganza and countless coffee mornings and pub
events. When it came to finding a big enough space to work in, I asked if I might set up studio
in the old ball-mill area of Geevor Mine, to create the statue in
public in order to both raise public awareness and generate further
donations from people passing through. This was a huge success,
raising in excess of £2,500. There have also been a number of
donations from various charitable trusts to help things along. We
cannot thank all these people enough.
The statue was installed
on May 27th 2016, with an official ceremonial unveiling and opening of the memorial garden by Colonel Edward Bolitho, OBE. Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall exactly 6 months later on November 27th the same year.