Heather is a genius with an eye for nature that in another generation would have seen her burnt as a witch – now she is rightly considered one of our country’s finest artists. If you were to ask the visitors to Eden “what is your favourite work here? It would be the horse and we gave the entrance to our kingdom to this horse. Richard 111 see it and weep.” She remains undeniably the leading British contemporary sculptor working with driftwood and has spawned a global trend for driftwood horses but her profound understanding of her subject sets her apart from the crowd. Her success has made it increasingly difficult to find driftwood on British shores, but no artist worth their salt is ever confined by circumstance, and, coupled with the disappointingly short lifespan of driftwood, it led Jansch to develop bronzes from driftwood originals thus coining the phrase, ‘Driftwood bronzes’. Few people can tell the difference between the original and the bronze. Such complex castings demand far more of a foundry than traditional sculptures. Entailing deconstruction of the original to make individual moulds. The driftwood is carefully marked and every detail photographed to enable accurate reassembly. The original then remains at the foundry to serve as a pattern. Each bronze horse, depending on size and complexity, is made from between 30 – 100 separate moulds. The various sections are welded together under the personal direction of the artist who also oversees the colouring.
These exceptional life-size castings seldom exceed five. Most people can only tell the difference by touch. Jansch was born Heather Rosemary Sewell in Essex in 1948. A country child, she was passionate about drawing and horses. Leonardo da Vinci was her hero and her dream was to become an artist. She trained in fine arts at Walthamstow and then Goldsmiths College in London from where she was expelled for “not having the stuff that artists are made of” with the advice to seek a place on an illustration or graphics course … The same year she married the legendary Scottish folk guitarist Bert Jansch. After leaving London they first lived in Sussex, and then in Wales where she bred Welsh Cobs and painted to commission in the Stubbs tradition until their amicable separation in 1976. Shortly afterwards she moved to the West country where she began to sculpt, rapidly gaining global acknowledgment.
She now writes and works in collaboration with their son, Kieron, a film maker. Jansch still lives in Devon and is fiercely determined to extend her creativity to encompass new arenas. Over the last 14 years she has created a private sculpture garden in a steep and secluded woodland valley. The NGS garden is open to visitors several times a year raising money for Macmillan Nurses. “I am amazingly lucky to have found such a haven. Forests and shorelines have fascinated me since childhood, to have my own bit of woodland near the sea is wonderful, it is the perfect place to display my larger work and somehow fitting that driftwood should return to it’s roots so to speak.”