“You should be able to look wildlife sculpture in the eye and see life.” (Hamish Mackie)
British wildlife sculptor Hamish Mackie has had the privilege of observing wildlife in many corners of the world at first hand. “Observing animals in their own environment, in their natural habitat, is essential to understanding the subject’s physical and instinctive traits. For example, the disposition of a captive predator is very different from that of a predator the wild,” he says. This close observation, often involving intense research trips and sculpting from life in the field, informs Hamish’s whole approach to his work, which resonates with his passion for the natural world.
His bronze wildlife sculptures capture instinctive moments of animal behaviour but are his own interpretation, not merely photographic representations. Hamish manages to convey the inner core, strength and grace of his subject. Largely self-taught, his style is unique – he frequently works in spontaneous, often unrepeatable, fluid gestures with a confidence born from many years of mastering his craft. This assertive handling of his materials, coupled with an acute understanding of anatomy, results in strong, dynamic, ‘living’ sculptures.
“It is close observation of my subject’s behaviour that really brings my pieces to life. I want to convey a sense of character, their spirit. This determines how I handle my material – in a loose fluid manner or in a tighter, more controlled way; with large sweeping strokes, or with smaller detail. A sculpture should have its own power. I want the viewer to feel an emotional response.” (Hamish Mackie)
Born in 1973, Hamish Mackie grew up on a livestock farm in Cornwall, England. In the kitchen of the family farm, there still hangs his first bronze sculpture – a calf’s head he made at the age of 12 as a Christmas present for his father. He attended Radley College and Falmouth School of Art, before going on to study design at Kingston University. He began sculpting full time in 1996.
Hamish has works in public and private collections around the world. His wildlife sculptures are cast in bronze or silver as limited editions, each signed, dated and numbered. Each sculpture takes on average four months to be sculpted, moulded and then cast into bronze using the lost wax method. It is a highly skilled, labour-intensive process.
In 2007, Hamish built a studio in Oxfordshire, where he now lives and works with his wife Laura and their three daughters. He has travelled to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Africa, United Arab Emirates, Australia and India, as well as all over Europe, to study wildlife and he often writes about these trips on his blog.
In 2014, Hamish Mackie won a major public art commission – Goodman’s Fields Horses for the Berkeley Homes Goodman’s Fields development in the City of London – six life and quarter size horses running loose through the pedestrianised plaza. During this year long project, he collaborated with Lockbund Foundry to create a new foundry big enough for the job that required over a kilometre of steel for the armatures, six tonnes of clay, one tonne of silicone rubber and four tonnes of bronze. The sculptures were unveiled in 2015 to critical acclaim and the following year, won the Public Monuments and Sculptures Association’s Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Fountains.