Monumental Lion Sculpture

Portland stone Lion

A unique commission for a private client’s estate. Tom Brown’s lion was to be a ‘third brother’ to the pair of monumental recumbent lions which sit outside Leeds town hall. The client would walk past the original pair on his way to school as a child. The design was to be an original one, slightly larger than life size and inspired by the attitude and style of the magnificent Victorian originals, a truly exciting opportunity to create something ambitious, striking and challenging.
Initially a half scale model or ‘maquette’ was designed and sculpted in clay in dialogue with the commissioning client to ensure the attitude, style and position pleased us both, and its design would work within the piece’s proposed future surroundings. We feel it essential to involve the commissioning client in dialogue at every phase of the creative process, to ensure that the the skill, artistry and expertise of the craftsman is engaged but equally the ideas of the client influence progress
Once the client and artist are happy, we begin production of a silicone mould to produce a plaster cast from which to measure, observe and plan the method to approach the carving phase. The plaster cast is required as clay dries, shrink and deteriorates over time, and can potentially be damaged during the carving process, bearing in mind a piece of this scale can take many months or even years to complete.
Upon Arrival of the Portland stone block (4 tonnes of Statuary grade Portland stone), it is manoeuvred into the workshop in medieval fashion: with crow bars and rollers and a concerted team effort.
Work begins with the feather & tackle splitters to remove the biggest sections followed by the stone chainsaw to remove further large bulky pieces of material, lightening the load and allowing the piece to be manoeuvred with less effort, out to the grinding booth for working out off the larger angles with disc grinders.
The next phase involves pneumatic chisels or ‘air tools’, used for ‘roughing out’ large and broad forms, this process involves all the skill and processes of carving by hand, but some of the energy required to repeatedly hit with mallet and hammer replaced by the internal hammer of the pneumatic chisels, powered by compressed air.
We then move onto the final phase; hand tools to begin work on fine detail, catching shadow and defining sinew, muscle, fur, facial features and expression. The work pace slows down dramatically, with every strike of the hammer considered.
Finally, the finished piece is delivered to his comfortable plinth and his new home, to become part of the landscape’s future and history.