to enlarge photo of
, by David Wynne.
David Wynne, a British sculptor born in Lyndhurst, Hampshire on May 25, 1926 is known for his sculptures of figures, animals, and portraits. He was educated at Stowe School, served in the Royal Navy during World War II, and read Zoology at Trinity College in Cambridge. He was awarded the OBE in 1994.
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Girl with a Dolphin
Among Wynne's work are a bronze of Sir Thomas Beecham, London Zoo’s most famous resident - Guy the Gorilla, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and a composite bronze of the Beatles’ heads, welded together so they appear to be floating. Wynne's work at Kendall Sculpture Gardens include
Girl with a Dolphin
, 1972 and
"I was self-taught, inspired by the natural world I had grown up with at my father’s livery stables in the New Forest. While reading zoology at Cambridge, I boldly invited myself to the London house of the renowned sculptor Jacob Epstein. He thought I looked more like a playboy than a sculptor, but was kind enough to advise my father to spend the little money he had on getting me a studio. Epstein came to see my work many times, teaching me more than any other artist."Throughout my career I have relied mainly on patronage rather than public commissions. Alistair McAlpine, the multi-millionaire art collector, was a constant supporter. Once, when I was penniless, he came to my studio, looked at my sculptures and said: ‘I would to like buy these.’ I asked which. ‘All of them,’ he replied. Later, he underwrote my first book of sculpture and set out to put me on the map as an artist.
"By the Sixties, I was established. Among my commissions were a bronze of Sir Thomas Beecham, London Zoo’s most famous resident, Guy the Gorilla, and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
David's time with The Beatles
"In 1964, I was planning a show at a gallery in London. We already had heads of John Gielgud and Yehudi Menuhin, but the gallery’s director asked if there were other famous people I’d like to sculpt for the event. I suggested The Beatles, so he took me to lunch with their manager Brian Epstein.
"Epstein said a sitting could only be fitted into their schedule if I flew to Paris, where they were recording part of their next album. . . . I had brought four metal stands on which the modelling clay is placed and worked by hand until the piece was complete. It has to harden before it can be transported and later cast in bronze. Each full-size head took about a day to create. The boys crowded in to see Ringo’s head emerging. At first it had no nose, somewhat in contrast with the real thing, which the rest of the band thought hilarious . . .
"John was highly intelligent. We talked about art and he questioned everything, saying: ‘The Beatles are rubbish. Picasso’s rubbish.’ I protested: ‘He’s not. One day, you’ll find out’ . . .
"Returning to my studio, I completed a composite bronze of the Beatles’ heads, welded together so they appear to be floating, and 6in individual figures of them in the studio. The pieces delighted the band. The work was finished, but our friendship continued. I would often visit their apartment in Park Street, Mayfair."
The Queen and David Wynne
"As I entered the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, I heard a familiar voice. The Queen was asking: ‘Whose van is that parked in my space?’ I owned up and offered to move it, but she would have none of it. Anyway, my Volkswagen reminded her of one she’d once driven in Africa.
"I was seeing the Queen to design a relief for a Silver Jubilee medal, my second Royal commission. The first was a head of the 20-year-old Prince Charles for his investiture in 1969.
"Back then, Charles was shy, but witty. He said he had seen my Guy the Gorilla sculpture at Crystal Palace Park and hoped he would prove a sitter of equal merit. It was the start of a lifetime’s friendship with the Prince.
"As I worked, Andrew and Edward played with the clay, pounding it into the carpet at Buckingham Palace. No one seemed to mind. Charles asked me: ‘Mr Wynne, what are your politics?’ I replied: ‘I am a monarchist.’ ‘Really, is that a party?’ ‘No, but it’s what my feelings are.’
"Perhaps that sentiment stood me in good stead in 1973 when I was called to meet the Royal Mint committee that commissions new coins and medals at St James’s Palace. I was waiting in the hall, when a door opened and the Duke of Edinburgh emerged. ‘Good morning, Wynne, very kind of you to have come. What we want is a medal for Her Majesty for her Silver Jubilee. How long will it take you to do a relief portrait?’
"Seated around a table were a number of mostly Labour politicians.
"They were hostile to the Monarchy and certainly didn’t want to see a medal issued. I sensed that they hoped I was going to make a long business of it. I was delighted to disappoint them . . . "
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