Skip navigation

Wallace100

8 Posts tagged with the anthony_smith tag
2

With the Wallace100 year drawing to a close, a year that has seen us remember and celebrate the legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace 100 years after his death, I was interested to find out if there was any activity immediately after Wallace’s death in November 1913 to mark his extraordinary life in any way. I thought there was no better place to start looking than in the letters sent after his death found on Wallace Letters Online.

 

Shortly after his death, Wallace’s three close friends, James Marchant, Raphael Meldola and Edward Bagnall Poulton set up the Wallace Memorial Fund, also known as the Memorial Committee. The fund’s purpose was to create a memorial for Wallace, in the form of a medallion featuring Wallace for Westminster Abbey; a portrait of him and a statue of him for the Natural History Museum.

 

As it turned out only the medallion and the portrait were created, with the memorial unveiled at the Abbey on 1 November 1915 and the painting by J. W. Beaufort presented to the Museum on the 100th anniversary of his birth in January 1923.

 

Marchant, Meldola and Poulton set about raising awareness of the Fund and raising money in the months following November 1913. In a letter written to Poulton on 23 February 1914, Meldola (the Fund’s Treasurer) informs Poulton

 

“The Fund is now £236 & Marchant wants to issue order for Medallion”.

 

Westminster Abbey was delighted to accept the medallion and nine months after this letter was written, it was unveiled.

 

Well-known names from the scientific world contributed to the fund, including Archibald Geikie, E. Ray Lankester and David Prain as well as contributors from the world of spiritualism and long-term correspondents of Wallace’s – Oliver Lodge and William Crookes.

 

However, a letter from William Greenell Wallace in January 1914 to TDA Cockerell, who was a close friend of Wallace’s, revealed the difficulties the Fund was having in realising their ambitious programme;

 

“I am sorry to say that the memorial fund is progressing very slowly and I doubt it will be possible to do more than the Abbey medallion, and even that will cost £300. The Abbey fee, for permission only, is £200 and the sculptor’s fee, greatly reduced in this case, is £100. It seems that fame without money has not much chance of recognition in this democratic country.”

 

“There is no fear that the statue will [be] disappointing as there is no chance of it being done, at present.”

 

Violet Wallace, in a letter to Octavius Pickard-Cambridge written on 5 December 1913 talked about the possible statue, writing,

 

“I like the idea of a statue if it could be like the one of Darwin in the N. H. Museum – that one always looks so natural, and my father would look nice.”

 

Sadly, the Fund didn’t raise enough money to achieve all of their aims, with the statue not being realised. However, 100 years after his death, there is at last a statue of Wallace housed at the Museum, a fitting way to commemorate Wallace and his achievements.

 

The Wallace Memorial Fund launched a new fundraising campaign last year and comissioned sculptor Anthony Smith to create a statue of Wallace in his exploring days, as a young naturalist in the field. It is also perhaps fitting, that the statue will be positioned close to the Darwin Centre, where the bulk of Wallace’s specimens that he collected during his years in the field are now housed.

 

Wallace statue.jpgThe new statue of Alfred Russel Wallace after its unveiling by Sir David Attenborough.

 

Update: The new statue was unveiled at a ceremony last night by Sir David Attenborough and will be located inside the Darwin Centre for the weekend before moving to its permanent position outside on Monday.

 

-Caroline-

Wallace Correspondence Project



0

Moulding the Statue

 

Sculptor Anthony Smith writes:

 

During the past couple of months I have been putting the finishing touches to the clay sculpture of Wallace, and we have now finally finished making its all-important mould. Taking a mould of a large, immovable object, such as a clay statue, is a rather complex operation, but hopefully these photos will help to explain exactly how we went about it...

3.jpg

The front and back of the statue are moulded separately, so the first step involved creating a dividing line all around the edge of the statue (above). This was done by building up a wooden support behind the statue, then adding a clay wall along the dividing line. Chalk powder is put on the surface of the clay statue first so that the clay wall can be removed without damaging the surface of the statue itself.

4.jpg

Once the clay wall has been added it is time to start coating the front side of the statue with a layer of silicone rubber (above). This is a fantastic material for mould-making as it can be easily applied to almost any surface, capturing the tiniest of details in the original sculpture (right down to the sculptor's fingerprints!).

5.jpg

Above you can see the front of the statue, with the wooden support behind and some of the clay wall still visible. The whole front and base of the statue is coated in a thick layer of white silicone rubber. The circular dents that you can see in the rubber are there so that the rubber sits correctly in the plaster casing... see below.

6.jpgPreparing the plaster.

7.jpg

Above you can see that the first section of the plaster casing has been added, encasing the base of the statue. Wooden supports are included within the plaster to add strength.

8.jpg

Once the whole of the front of the statue is encased in plaster it is time to work on the back (above) – the wooden support and the clay wall are removed and a layer of rubber is added over the top of the clay, just the same as for the front.

 

Once the rubber on the back of the sculpture has fully set, it too is enclosed with a plaster casing. Only once the plaster has fully dried is it time to take the mould apart...

9.jpg

First, the various parts of the plaster casing are prised off (above - you can see one of these parts leaning against the wall behind the statue). Then the rubber is peeled from the surface of the clay and laid back inside the plaster casing. This way the rubber holds the exact same shape as it did when it was on the surface of the statue and an accurate replica can be made. Finally, the moulding is complete!

 

So what next? Well, the mould is currently at the foundry where they are busy creating a hollow wax replica of the statue. Next week I will be joining the foundry to put the finishing touches to this replica, then we will move on to the 'investment' and casting stages.

 

If you're already curious to learn exactly how the mould is used, here's a good summary of the lost-wax casting process.


My next update will be coming from the foundry... stay tuned!

0

Sculptor Anthony Smith writes:

 

The rather spooky-looking plaster outline of Wallace shown in my last post has now been fleshed-out with a surface layer of clay and is now looking a lot more human. There are many possible sculpting materials, but I have found nothing better than a good quality water-based sculpting clay, which is similar to common potters clay, but with no grit or 'grog', which gives it a nice smooth finish.

 

I have begun by sculpting Wallace more-or-less nude, so that all of the limbs and muscle groups are correctly modelled, and it is onto this naked form I will soon be adding the clothes (again, all in clay). In order to get all the anatomy and the folds of the clothes correct I am working with a model with a similar physique to Wallace, who will also be wearing the same sorts of clothes that Wallace wore when out hunting specimens in the jungles of the Malay Archipelago. Quite a lot of research has gone into tracking-down the correct clothing, based on Wallace's own writings and the advice of experts, and I now have a Victorian 'hunting-shirt', just like the ones Wallace describes himself as wearing.

 

"To give English entomologists some idea of the collecting here, I will give a sketch of one good day’s work. Till breakfast I am occupied ticketing and noting the captures of the previous day, examining boxes for ants, putting out drying-boxes and setting the insects of any caught by lamp-light. About 10 o’clock I am ready to start. My equipment is, a rug-net [bag-net], large collecting-box hung by a strap over my shoulder, a pair of pliers for Hymenoptera, two bottles with spirits, one large and wide-mouthed for average Coleoptera, &c., the other very small for minute and active insects, which are often lost by attempting to drop them into a large mouthed bottle. These bottles are carried in pockets in my hunting-shirt, and are attached by strings round my neck; the corks are each secured to the bottle by a short string". Wallace in a letter to Stevens from Sarawak in 1855

 

Since the statue of Wallace is around 10% larger than life-size, I am constantly taking measurements from my model and doing enlargement calculations before making the additions to my sculpture.

 

We don't want to give too much of the design away at this stage, so future posts will be limited to written descriptions and perhaps a few detail shots. All will be revealed on 7 November at the unveiling!

0

Sculptor Anthony Smith writes:

 

It has been rather tricky tracking down the exact designs of the boots, trousers and (particularly) the shirt that Wallace would have worn, but we have finally managed it thanks to various individuals at the V&A, the University of Auckland, the Northampton Museum, and some great detective work by George Beccaloni.

 

Using information gleaned from Wallace's own writings as well as the advice of various experts, we can now depict Wallace in his full, authentic clothing, and with all his proper collecting equipment (which I'm sure he would be very happy about!). The plaster stage of the sculpture has been completed and I am now working on the clay (see below).

Statue1.smaller.jpgStatue2.smaller.jpg

 

The general forms that make up the body are sculpted in plaster but are kept slightly small in order to leave space for the clay surface. The plaster is then varnished to prevent it from drawing too much moisture from the clay on top.

 

1861 boots (1).jpg

Ankle-height, lace-up leather boots circa 1861, of the type Wallace probably wore in the Malay Archipelago

 

Read the earlier posts in this series:

 

0

So far in this series of posts on the making of the Wallace statue, we've described the background to the project and introduced me as the sculptor, and shown the important first stages of preparation.

 

In this third entry in the series, things are beginning to take shape:

1.jpg

The steel and wood armature that will support the plaster and clay of the sculpture.

 

2.jpg

Steel rods are used to support the arms, and a number of screws are added to the central wooden board and the leg frames in order to give greater support for the light-weight materials that are added next.

 

3.jpg

The rough shape of the body and limbs are 'blocked-out' using light-weight materials such as polystyrene foam and wood-wool (which is bound tightly to the armature using strong twine). It is onto these materials that the plaster and clay will be added.

 

More photos soon!

 

Anthony Smith

 

Read the earlier posts in this series:

 

0

The important first stages of the Wallace statue have now been completed...

 

The first task in creating a statue is the construction of an accurate 'armature' (the skeleton onto which the plaster and clay is built). This has to be done very carefully, as the positioning of the armature will entirely determine how the statue ends up.

 

In order to create an accurate armature, I have been working with a male model (with the same physique as Wallace) and taking various measurements and reference photos.

 

1 - measurements.jpg'Tools of the trade' – callipers and plumb-lines are used to establish the precise position of various key points on the model (patella, wrists, elbows, acromion etc.)

 

Since I will be sculpting Wallace approximately 10% larger than life, all of these measurements and their positions have to be adjusted accordingly.

 

2 - sculpting platform.jpgThe Sculpting Platform – it is important that the sculpting platform not only be strong enough to support the finished clay sculpture (perhaps 200kg in weight), but it must also be mobile, so that the statue can be easily moved around for viewing at different angles.

 

3 - floor template.jpgThe Floor Template – the various key measurements are enlarged by 10% and then transferred to the sculpting platform for assisting with the creation of the armature.]

 

4 - armature construction.jpgSteel armature.

 

It's all coming along nicely!

 

More pictures next week...

 

A guest post by the sculptor Anthony Smith

 

Read the first post in this series:

 

0

Background to the project

 

On the 15th July 2012 the Wallace Memorial Fund, with the enthusiastic support of its Patron, comedian and natural historian Bill Bailey, and its Treasurer, Wallace's grandson Richard, began a campaign to raise £50,000 for a life-size bronze statue of Wallace for the Museum to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Wallace’s death in 2013. The campaign closed 7 months later on the 16th February 2013 and exactly £25,000 was raised.

 

Although the Wallace Fund's campaign has now ended the fundraising will continue until August 2013 thanks to the kind people who are organising the 2013 Ancestor's Trail. This year's event will be Wallace themed and the aim will be to try to raise the remaining £25,000 for the statue. In the meantime, the Wallace Fund has commissioned sculptor Anthony Smith to produce a model for the full statue as the Fund is optimistic that all the money will be raised in time. Anthony has kindly agreed to write a series of posts for this blog documenting the process of making the statue. The first of his posts is below.

 

Hello from the sculptor

 

As this is my first post about the Wallace statue, I should first say a little something about myself... My name is Anthony Smith and I am a British sculptor (now based in Amsterdam). Before I began my career as a sculptor, I studied biology at Cambridge University, specialising in animal behaviour and evolution. It was then, at the age of nineteen, that I bought my 1st edition copy of Alfred Russel Wallace's book Darwinism – and I have been fascinated by him ever since. It is therefore a huge honour and delight to have been commissioned to create a statue of Wallace (which is, of course, long overdue) and I can think of no better location for it than the wonderful Natural History Museum in London!

 

I will be following up this message with various posts and photos throughout the sculpting process, keeping everyone up-to-date with the progress of the statue. But at the moment I can let you know that I have begun the ground-work for the statue – constructing a mobile sculpting platform, and beginning work on the steel armature that will support the clay sculpture. Photos to follow in due course... watch this space!

 

For more information about myself and my previous work, feel free to visit my website.

0

Articles about the Wallace Memorial Fund's campaign to raise funds to commission a bronze statue of Wallace for the Natural History Museum have been published on the BBC Wales website and in the South Wales Argus - a newspaper that covers the 'Wallace heartland' of southern Wales.

 

Anthony Smith, the sculptor the Fund will employ to create the statue has just been commissioned by the Royal Mint to design a new £2 coin. His design will be going into circulation later this year. Perhaps it will feature a portrait of Wallace!? Well, perhaps not...

 

To see an article about the 'original' Wallace Memorial Fund's efforts to raise funds for a statue of Wallace for the Museum visit the Nature journal's website.