AG Sculptures is a father/son business but not in the normal way. It is fascinating to learn that the sculpting began in 1988 when at the age of 43 Alan Glasby O.B.E.,G.M. decided to 'have a go' at carving. With no formal training he developed his own style and methods, with each piece displaying its own unique presence and character. His skills didn't go unnoticed and he had some amazing commissions including a half size Golden Eagle for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force for presentation to Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II to mark 50 years as Air Commodore-in-Chief. It wasn't until Alan sadly passed away in 2008 that his Son, Andrew decided to take up the helm. Amazingly with no previous sculpting experience (and only watching his father a handful of times), Alan seemed to take to it like duck to water!
‘After a year of working on my father’s work I felt a need to develop my own sculpting and it felt so right to produce a duck head, a nod to dad’s early decoy carvings, where it all began’.
Spurred on by the response to his 'resting teal' he produced more of his own work and developed his own unique patination techniques. Andrews work has become increasingly complex, producing very intricate and dramatic work such as the barn owl in flight pictured above. When you meet Andrew he clearly conveys the love for his work. His philosophy is simple:
‘Each bird I sculpt has its own wonderful set of characteristics. My love of this subject provokes a strong emotion in me. If I can convey this same emotion in people when they see my work, then I have achieved my goal.’
The design and the finish of the birds are so intricate, what is the process you follow to reach the finished product?
The whole process has to start with inspiration. I am a huge bird lover, for me they are the ultimate survivor and as a sculptor they make the ultimate subject range. I love their vast characteristics. From the cheeky noisy wren to the elegance and speed of our British game birds and then the strength and agility of birds of prey. Fantastic!!
When I have chosen a subject I like to find photographs and literature on the bird. I am looking to capture its soul and its essence most importantly. Alongside this comes my desire to create realism in my art ensuring the dimensions and proportions are correct.
To sculpt I will use different materials such as sheet aluminium and clays to sculpt the initial shape and apoxy resins thereafter, I find this great to carve and perfect for getting that important fine detail.
The sculpture is then sent to my trusted foundry in Birmingham, Lunts Castings. They cast the work in to Bronze for me. This process is very specialised and we have built a great relationship over the years.
Once the piece is returned from the foundry I begin patination, an art form in itself (this is the addition of subtle colour to the bronze). The process involves a mix of chemicals that are applied using a blow torch and brushes at an extremely high temperature.
The bronze comes back to me from the foundry coated brown in colour as you would expect traditional bronze to look. This base colour is the equivalent of a base wash on a canvas. From here I heat the bronze up to 200o before applying the chemical. I am always developing new colours and layering depending on the characteristics of the bird. This has been an experimental process which I can say I am very proud of and is now my closely guarded secret. I think my style really works with this subject and is completely unique. Initially I did try to follow my father's formulas but I was soon developing my own style.
How long does it generally take to create a bird?
It is difficult to say how long a piece will take to create. It will of course depend on the size of the bird, the posture I wish to achieve and the complexities. I would say that the larger pieces I have created such as the Bald Eagle, the Barn Owl and Red Kite has taken around 7 months to complete before they have been ready to be cast. My Barn Swallow which is my latest work took around 3 months.
Once at the foundry the processes there take approximately 8-10 weeks to complete before they can be returned to me for patination.
Do you take Bespoke Commissions?
Of course if I’m approached for something bespoke it is something that I will seriously consider and am happy to do. However a one off can become a very expensive sculpture when you consider time, process and cost of the bronze. I have taken commissions, my Blackbird, Nuthatch and Woodpecker in flight were all commissions, but I find that customers are very happy for me to run an edition of this work with them having number1 in that edition.
Where can we find your work displayed?
My work can be found in several galleries across the country
Wykeham Gallery, High St, Stockbridge SO20 6HE
Number Four Gallery, Northfield farm, St Abbs, Eyemouth, Berwickshire TD14 5QF
Tryon Gallery, 7 Bury Street, London SW1Y 6AL
Pinkfoot Gallery, High Street, Cley-next-the-Sea NR25 7RB
This year I am conducting a private exhibition at the Lilford Gallery in Canterbury this is in conjunction with the Kent International Art Festival, the exhibition will run from 15th October – 5th November.
I also take my work to be seen at relevant shows throughout the year, here’s where I will be exhibiting for the rest of the year.
Henley on Thames with Craft in Focus – 24th -26th June
The Game Fair, Ragley Hall -29th – 31st July
The Countryfile Live Show, Bleinheim Palace, Oxfordshire – 4th – 7th August
Rutland Bird Fair, Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Egleton, Rutland – 19th – 21st August
Burghley Horse Trials, Burghley House Stamford 1st – 4th September
Edinburgh Art Fair, The Edinburgh Corn Exchange, Edinburgh 17th – 20th November (Represented by Number Four Gallery)
Christmas Craft and Design Fair 23-27th November