Spotlight: ‘Cheetah Launch Pad’ by Hamish Mackie
Kew Gardens – what a treat. It has all the standard wildlife spotting that one can expect in a british park these days – the odd moorhen, Canada goose, ducks and squirrels. More than that, you will be confronted with some of the world’s most celebrated predators – right by the walkway no less.
Fear not, however: these fearsome creatures are immobile: dotted around the site is an exquisite sculpture show that displays a wealth of exotic animals cast in bronze. Quite a brave move for a traditional and historic venue, and could really jar with the natural surroundings but the sheer quality and naturalness of the sculpture and the sympathetic materials used really are an exciting addition to the landscape.
Hamish Mackie’s Sculpture
One such work is ‘Cheetah’ by Hamish Mackie, Britain’s most prominent bronze wildlife sculptor. Designed to capture movement and energy, these wild cats are beautifully expressive and loose in style, reminiscent in some ways to the impressionistic handwork of Degas’ ballet dancers.
And artistic beauty is clear. Made with reference to work carried out in Namibia in conjunction with charity foundations, the African spirit is translated into Mackie’s signature organic texture which entirely complements the natural surroundings of this British landscape. The big cat skulks through the English woodland, all majestic and graceful – we can almost see the steam evaporate from the slender body as he walks past us with stealth.
And not merely aesthetic beauty. Mackie mixes science with artistic expression in his discipline. In this natural landscape, this captivating bronze animal is so realistic in its expressiveness – Mackie’s attention to accurate anatomical structure, over which the details of loose skin and fur is ‘added’ over the musculature gives the real impression of movement and character. The detail of paws, eyes, nose and ears are detailed and studied. Is he looking at us? Has he heard his prey? Can he smell his pride nearby?
This sculpture shows Hamish Mackie’s true sensitivity to animal behaviour as well, which, thanks to years observing animals in their natural habitat, Mackie says he has ‘ developed a true understanding’ of. Extremely graceful yet bold.
Mackie’s career all started from when he sold two paintings at his school graduate show at school. Since that important event, he has travelled all around the world to explore his topic, his celebrated patrons include no less than Charles Saatchi. His working process starts with drawings, photographs and plasticine models made in the wild, which he then translates to his studio back in Cornwall.