INVICTUS GAMES CHAMPION
A contemporary sculpture in marble and lead inset lettering. This work has been made to be auctioned to help raise funds for two of Mark's chosen charities.
By now we are all aware of the amazing achievements of the incredible life force which is Mark Ormrod. After him winning the hearts and minds of all of us back here in the UK with his fantastic show at Toronto's Invictus Games, we now go back just one year to November 2016. Here we begin the story of this rather usual coming together of artist and ex Royal Marine. Below is a brief document of the collaboration these two individuals have created and we are soon to see the finished work go into the world with a mission to raise the maximum funds possible to help other service men and women who are coming home and beginning to rebuild their own lives in much the same way Mark has had to.
This amazing project began with a live casting session at Mark's home. Ben travelled down to Plymouth and with the help of Mark's wife Becky and his two children, Evie and Mason, proceeded to cover him in plaster. Though who ended up with the most plaster on them is still under discussion!
Ben says, "After seeing Mark take up different positions, I instinctively knew the moment I wish to capture and transfer to marble for all time. I got Mark as comfortable as possible, asked him to replicate the position and hold it for up to 20 minutes. I then began the work of freezing that posture in plaster. In this instance I saw quite quickly a wonderful image which seemed to be almost straight out of the the Classical Greek sculpture section of the British museum.
Next we took a life cast directly from the Mark's body. This cast allowed me to work up a static model back in my studio on the west coast of Wales. I felt it was a little too much to ask Mark to come to me and hang around for days on end while I measured and modelled him in clay. And this method is much kinder on the sitter, though a little uncomfortable if you have much body hair!"
Mark getting plastered! Ben working on the plaster 'first'
After the plaster copy is made Ben chose his block of marble. This he has selected from the mountains of Carrara in Italy, very close to the same quarry which was used centuries ago by Michelangelo. It is a magical place to visit and Ben speaks vividly of his travels there in other sections of this web site.
The block for this work was 150 kilograms to begin with and was chosen for its natural colouring as there is a dramatic shift from the pure white to the streaks of flecked grey running down the right hand side of the figure.
Roughing out the block. Traditional carving tools are still the best.
The plaster 'first' on the left and the marble block with the torso emerging.
Traditional techniques being used to create the work as a marble sculpture. This work called for something a bit special to distinguish this as a direct copy of Mark's torso. Ben had to learn the ancient art of lettering in lead, though the surface he was to apply this to was rather tricky as it was on a double curved surface. To capture and reference the Royal Marines tattoo Mark has on his left shoulder, Ben decided to used the inset method of leading.
The images below show something of this process, which require the lettering to be first fully carved and then the lead hammered into place and finished flush to the final surface. The end result shines back as a reflection and fragment of the whole tattoo, in much the same way that the torso is a fragment of the man, who himself is a fragment of his former self – though it must be said, no less a man for his physical losses; rather, more of a complete individual than many of us can ever hope to be.
Mark is an incredible inspiration to so many. He embodies the term 'Hero'. He puts his whole heart and soul into whatever he sets out to do, in much the same way as he did when he was in the Marines, where he was trained to the highest levels and developed the ability to push all known boundaries into the stratosphere. It is with great respect for his enduring positive attitude in the face of such difficult circumstances that this piece of unique art work has been made.
Watch this space for upcoming news and further details. Please do get in touch if you can offer any help with this exciting project.
ANZAC Centenary Stone
Muswellbrook Regional Arts Gallery
The making of the ANZAC Centenary Stone.
Below are some of the people who came to make their mark in stone, each one just as important as the next in much the same way as each life given in service over the past 100 years held equal value. This work stands to show that we have not forgotten.
The ANZAC Centenary Stone was created by inviting the public to join me in carving a 2 tonne block of donated sandstone over two weekends. I had almost 100 people turn up and I helped them to leave their 'mark' as a mark of respect to all the servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice during the past 100 years from this region.
This proved to be a most special and poignant project and as Artist in Residence for the Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery, with the support of the local council and the many people who came and joined in, we were able to leave behind a sculpture which held many stories in stone. I carved Lest We Forget, into the side of the work along with the shape of a tin helmet on the top, which was designed so as to appear as if it were just left there by a passing soldier. The public works, along with many initials and special carved shapes, included some quite detailed carvings of subjects like a letter home to Mum, the Lone Pine, an engineer's bridge, the Home Fires waiting for the returning service men, the wings of and angel and the Australian Air Force and initials of the only Aboriginal AAF pilot and even a portrait of a father in uniform. So many wonderful details, by so few, for so many.
My thanks for all the help I received in making this public art project work happen: all the staff at the gallery and council, for the donation of the stone and the excellent Art Gallery Cafe which helped keep me going with great fresh coffee each day.
This work now stands as the start of the Upper Hunter Valley Art Trail. The region has many wonderful places to visit and there are 3 locations where Ben's sculpture works can be found within a day's drive. You can take in the fantastic scenery, award-winning local wines and great foods and coffee in this amazing region of Australia. Muswellbrook Art Gallery, Two Rivers Wines, Denman and David Mahony's Sculpture Gardens in Sandy Hollow.
TWO RIVERS WINES
During the summer of 2015 I was commissioned to travel to Australia to create a site specific work for one of the top award winning wineries in the Upper Hunter valley of NSW, Two Rivers Wines. 28 tonnes of local sandstone were used to create 'The Custodians of the Landscape': a series of sculptures which not only provide a space for the enjoyment of the vineyard with the seating and table stones, but also at it's heart reflects the need to be ever watchful of this precious environment.
The eye of the 'Mother stone' looks across the vineyard.
For the full story and detailed images of the completed works please go to the Public Art section.
Bombay Sapphire Gin, summer 2014
This summer I had the pleasure of working with the Thomas Heatherwick Studios in producing one of the key features of the new Bacardi Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery – a huge carving of Queen Victoria on a brick wall.
The reinvention of the old paper mill in Laverstoke, Hampshire, was a huge undertaking. Working with Grade I-listed buildings and winning the 2014 Breeam award was all part of the project for the Heatherwick Studios. I was commissioned to carve the 4m x 3m image of Queen Victoria as the Empress of India, which is the logo of Bombay Sapphire Gin.
With help from my excellent teammate Richard Mossman in the early stages, the work carried out has now become one of the features of the overall site. Working alongside English Heritage, we were able to create a monumental sculpture that seems to fit as if it were always there. The Heatherwick Studios design for the site is truly amazing and if you like a G and T or a true 'Grand Design' then it is well worth a visit.
International Festival in Montaigu-De Quercy August 4-9 2014
The festival of stone originates form this beautiful region of southern France with Laurent Donnadieu organising the events for a week of art, music and dance. The following images show something of the monumental task of creating a giant with a mission... This collaboration was created with Duncan Eillott and a lot of help from my friends in France. L to R: Vincent, David, Me and Romain to name just a few.
Thank you to Laurent for inviting me to take part in this extraordinary event and all the team for making it a great experience. I will be back...
Festival of Stone June 2013
This festival was designed to bring together carvers of stone from all over the world to celebrate the power of stone sculpture. Along with music, great food and theatre it has proved to be a great success with over 50 artists coming together to create as varied a collection of sculpture as you would be likely to see in one place.
Without the amazing french team, (led by Laurent Donnadieu), this would not have been possible. They brought the spirit of the ancient traditions of stone carving, together with great musicians and a spectacular final performance which had to been seen to be believed.
I was commissioned to create one of the larger works over the full 10 days and chose as my subject 'The Father of The Bicycle Industry' James Starley 1830 - 1881 who was a hugely important British inventor bringing us among other things the Penny Farthing (Ordinary) bicycle. My sculpture was a 5 tonne head fragment opened up inside to show his invention emerging as a thought. The following images tell the story...
Day 1 and 2
Day 3 to 6
Day 6 to 8
Final day, day 10
Along with this principle commission i was asked to give one of the evening Seminars, Exploring the Creative Mind, as well as taking part in the final judging panel to select the overall event winner...Patrick Way. It was a great honour for me to play my part in this years festival, my thanks to Mike Richards, Bruce Yates and all the team for making it happen.
If you would like to see what else was going on at the Festival then please click on this link and look out for next years event which will be even bigger!
My thanks also to Sustrans for their support with my project and for creating the Festival Way (which i used each day to get into Bristol centre) and the many other great cycle networks into and around our cities.
2013 New Sculpture, inspired by the West Coast of Wales.
This new sculpture, Reflections, in polished stainless steel (8 x 4 x 2ft), has just been accepted for the Riverhill Himalayan Gardens in Sevenoaks, Kent, and will be on display there throughout this summer. The design, which is produced in a limited edition of just 6, is the first of my large garden sculptures. Please contact me for more information on the series.
Moving to the west coast of Wales has been a breath of fresh air for me and my work as a sculptor, giving me the time to reflect upon a new dimension, which has been waiting quietly in the background for some time now. My links with music and art are very strong and I am now exploring how I can fuse these artistic flavours within my practice. This year, I hope to develop various collaborations with musicians and composers who will join me in creating some very dynamic art.
This sculpture (60 x 50 x 18 cm) is carved from marble and is tuned with 8 gold strings from the base guitar of the late great John Entwistle, 1944-2002, of THE WHO. It is mounted on fine Welsh slate, which gives it a very mellow tonal quality.
2012 September 8 at the International Paralympics Day celebrations, Trafalgar Square, London. BT Art of Sport
I was invited by BT to showcase their Art of Sport programme at the International Paralympics celebrations in London as a preview to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympics.
Lord Sebastian Coe at the unveiling of the Blade Runner bronze