Extreme Sculpting in Wiltshire
A Wiltshire sculptor creates a life size African bull elephant in his garden...
It emerged, last summer, from a snow flurry of white polystyrene chips. It's as big as… well an elephant (13 feet tall, 22 feet long and 14 feet wide). And was even responsible for a number of aircraft, microlights and RAF planes heading off course.
So steering well clear of references to say 'Jumbo Project' or 'White Elephant', as if, let me introduce you to the life-size-super-sized creation of local sculptor Mark Coreth.
It was back in July that Mark, a retired Army officer from Tisbury, began this massive project following a trip to Kenya. Mark, on the hunt for the "100lb tuskers of history books", spent several days out in the field sitting amongst some of the biggest bull elephants in Africa before he returned home with plans to sculpt what he'd seen.
It was only at this point that the project began to escalate….
"I came home," says Mark, "and the scale, I had in my mind, was to make him life size for everyone else who hadn't seen a large bull elephant up close.
"I wanted to show the size of wildlife. How big it is."
Working from a small scale armature, and using a reasonably sized building's worth of scaffolding to support it, Mark began to create the skeleton framework of a big bull elephant in his garden.
Plumping for massive blocks of polystyrene, the size of chest freezers, to build up the animal's bulk he experimented with a number of different methods to tackle them before turning to the chain saw:
"The weather was unbelievably hot," says Mark, "and cutting and wielding a chainsaw on polystyrene blocks created a huge snowstorm of white polystyrene.
"But the hardest thing was getting the scale right. It's a huge structure and so I had to spend a lot of time working out how to get life into it, making sure it defied gravity and making it alive."
And to get the perspective of the rapidly emerging sculpture, from above, Mark was even forced into the air in his 54 year-old plane.
Taking the elephant over the Alps
But it was all worth it...
Just seven weeks after starting the project, and with a final lick of white plaster, the massive three ton white African bull elephant was finished.
Christened Maurice (in honour of Mark’s father) it soon became something of a tourist attraction:
"When you raise your eyes to Maurice," writes one visitor, "the sense of being in the presence of a living creature is very strong.
"An encounter with an elephant, particularly in the wild generates a rush of emotions in the observer, strangely some of those same feelings are aroused gazing up at this exquisite, roughly crafted plaster and steel mountain."
The 'steel mountain', however, is on the move. Currently in the process of being bronzed, which will double its weight to 6.5 tons and the same weight as a real elephant, two elephants are due to be cast. When finished they will then be heading off to a private buyer in Sydney, Australia and a retail park in Italy:
"Yes we're taking one of the elephants over the alps, or through it, like Hanibal," says Mark.
"We're checking that the tunnels are wide enough. But I'm hoping to ride the elephant over the Alps in a howdah, waving a spear."
Gallery of this, hopefully, to follow...
last updated: 30/04/2008 at 10:13
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