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Press release

The Royal British Society of Sculptors and the Natural History Museum present


Tessa Campbell Fraser

Sculpture and Works on Paper
Free outdoor exhibition open to the public: 9 April – 10 October 2004
Private View: Tuesday 6 April 2004

Hippos, elephants, a polar bear and a red deer stag will take over the Natural History Museum’s west lawn this summer. Following the success of Peter Randall-Page’s exhibition in 2003, this second collaboration between the Natural History Museum and The Royal British Society of Sculptors will feature work by award-winning artist Tessa Campbell Fraser. One of the UK’s leading figurative sculptors, this is Tessa’s first solo show in a public gallery.

‘I‘m very excited to be exhibiting my sculptures at the Natural History Museum, where their life began,’ says Tessa Campbell Fraser. ‘In the Mammals gallery of the Museum I worked into the small hours, studying the form and character of the animals and sculpting my original clay models. The Museum’s wonderful exhibits gave me a greater understanding of anatomy and have been an inspiration throughout the whole process.’

The large-scale bronzes include a family of three elephants in water, life-size hippos in water and a life-size red deer stag, brought together for the first time. In addition, the Museum is proud to exhibit a new piece of work, which features a human figure on a polar bear and represents a departure from Tessa’s purely figurative work.

As well as examining animals in the Natural History Museum, Tessa always studies her subjects in their natural environments in order to capture their true character. This has led her all over the world, most recently to Greenland where she completed a series of abstract and representational paintings to complement her new polar bear and human sculpture. A selection of drawings and pastels from her visit to Greenland will be displayed inside the Museum.

Tessa Campbell Fraser lives in Oxfordshire, where she designed and built her own studio, with husband comedian Rory Bremner and their two daughters. After studying at Chelsea School of Art, she spent the first five years of her career working as a muralist in London and abroad, undertaking private and commercial commissions. By the late 1980s she had established herself as one of the country’s leading equestrian and landscape artists and has since won many awards, including the Diana Brooks Award (1992), the Chelsea Arts Society Oil Painting Award (1993) and the Winsor and Newton Watercolours Award (1995). In 1996, her interest in animals and anatomy led her to focus on sculpting and in 2001 she was elected an Associate Member of The Royal British Society of Sculptors.

Tessa has had a solo show at The Tryon and Swann gallery, London, and has also exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, The Royal Institute of Oil Painters, The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, and the Pastel Society. Her paintings and sculptures are held in private collections including those of Her Majesty The Queen, the Household Cavalry and Knuthenborg Safari Park, Denmark.

‘Visitors coming to the Museum this summer may be surprised to come face to face with some of their favourite animals outside on the lawn,’ says Cath Armstrong of the Natural History Museum. ‘Tessa’s work is a great example of how the Museum’s exhibits can inspire people to create art celebrating the wonders of the natural world.’

A series of events and workshops for adults and families will accompany this exhibition.

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Notes for editors

  • Winner of the 2003 Visitor Attraction of the Year award, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries. The Museum is committed to encouraging public engagement with science. This has been greatly enhanced by the Darwin Centre, a major new initiative, which offers visitors unique access behind the scenes of the Museum. Phase One of the project opened to the public in 2002 and Phase Two is scheduled to open in 2008.
  • Through its diverse and innovative arts programme, the Natural History Museum aims to promote the understanding and enjoyment of the natural world, communicating the Museum’s science through various media. The Museum has exhibited work by different artists such as Peter Randall-Page, Olly & Suzi and Jan Fabre, and produced performances with companies such as Forkbeard Fantasy, Scarabeus Theatre and Faulty Optic.
  • The Royal British Society of Sculptors (RBS) is a membership society for professional sculptors, founded in 1904. It is a registered charity which exists to ‘promote and advance sculpture in all its forms’, to ensure the continued widespread debate on contemporary sculpture and to promote the pursuit of excellence in the art form.

If you would like to interview Tessa Campbell Fraser, request images or further exhibition information, please contact:

Sarah Hoyle, Kristy Jones or Becky Chetley
Tel: 020 7942 5189/5654
Email: press@nhm.ac.uk (not for publication)

VISITOR INFORMATION

Admission: free
Venue: The Natural History Museum
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.00–17.50,
Sunday 11.00–17.50
Public enquiries: 020 7942 5000 Monday – Friday,
020 7942 5011 Saturday and Sunday
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk 

Issued February 2004