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“A desire for being with, observing and drawing animals has been with me from my earliest memory, so it comes as no surprise that as a professional artist I am an animalier.” Lucy Kinsella.
Born in Hampshire in 1960, Lucy Kinsella now lives in Leicestershire. She traces her love of animals back to her rural childhood and time spent outdoors walking dogs and riding ponies. She also admits to a fascination for the workings of her local abattoir which she credits with igniting her interest in anatomy.
On leaving school she decided to explore a career in farming, this was short lived however and after two years she swapped the country for the city to work in business in London but whilst great fun, this too proved unfulfilling. It was a friend who suggested she try to pursue a creative profession based on her long standing love of drawing and painting. She signed up for an Art foundation course and quickly realised she was on the right path, studying under tutor Joe Frenzy of whom she says “Joe unlocked the power and mystery of colour, composition and the wonders of life drawing – I loved it.”
A Fine Art degree specialising in sculpture followed and she again found herself inspired by her tutors, practising sculptors Dave Tarver and John McGill. She credits them with instilling in her the importance of direct, observational drawing and the value of traditional techniques and materials whilst at the same time encouraging her to find a progressive approach of her own. After graduating she set up her own studio and began to focus exclusively on animals as her subject matter. As she experimented with different mediums including wax, clay, plaster and wire she began to establish her now distinctive style.
Her work ranges from small ornamental pieces to life size outdoor sculptures. Describing herself as a ‘figurative artist’ she says her aim “is to express the gestures, personality and character of the subjects I study.” Frequently she captures animals in motion, for example a flying pheasant, jumping fox or pair of boxing hares, and freezes them in time whilst losing none of their vitality. Other times she will depict them in repose, exploring the serenity of a sleeping dog or resting ram.
She begins all her pieces with detailed research and makes small scale drawings and models using wax over copper wire to help her decide on the exact composition of the sculpture. Once the design is finalised she creates the work in plaster or clay over a skeleton of welded steel or flexible aluminium. Moulds are taken from the finished piece and then cast in either bronze or reinforced resin before the application of layers of coloured patinas which serve to accentuate the details of each animal.
Her skill lies in her ability to communicate energy and movement as well as a level of realism. Her dynamic, impressionistic treatment of surface texture is a distinctive feature of her work and one that adds a sense of vitality to the art form. She believes “the essential focus of my work is to capture the spirit of the animals I study.”
Her reputation was greatly enhanced following a hugely successful solo exhibition at the City Gallery in Leicester in 2000 and commissions and invitations to show her work built steadily from both galleries and sculpture parks. Her pieces are now highly collectible and are held in many private and public collections both in the UK, Europe and as far afield as New Zealand.