Inside his sprawling nine-room studio in Yorkshire, self-taught artist Steve Winterburn toils over molten bronze. While it may sound like the opening of a Gothic novel, it’s the start of something magical for the sculptor, who is one of the exciting new artists we’ve welcomed to our fold.
Steve’s striking wildlife sculptures are the result of years of experimentation for the former painter, who has previously sold his work in Harrods and Selfridges. Combining an innate understanding of engineering and design with a desire to challenge himself as an artist, his work is inspired by his travels to India, Peru, Kenya and Australia.
But it was upon viewing the legendary sculptures of Greece that Steve was inspired to swap his paintbrush for his own self-built foundry. Here, he delved into the closely-guarded secrets of foundrymen to master mould-making skills and manipulation of the malleable surface. Each of his animals are hand-finished and patinated by himself.
“The chemicals and heat bring the sculptures to life,” Steve explains. “Having worked so closely with wildlife on conservation projects, I wanted to be able to capture this ‘essence’ in my art.”
From tracking gorillas in the mountains of Rwanda to staying with a tiger guru in India, Steve likes to immerse himself in the wilderness. Over the years, he has worked with charities like Care for the Wild International and Project Lion to help with the conservation of big cats.
He has even created an artwork from life at a big cat sanctuary, explaining: “The leopard was completely taken with the sculpture and amusingly stalked the piece all day. She really didn’t trust her temporary new neighbour. “All animals captivate me in their own way. They are beautiful, majestic beings, yet at the same time incredibly dangerous and deserving of respect. There is something about their eyes that really draws me to them.”
The looseness of the finish of his pieces allow Steve to concentrate on the feel of the animals. He tries to capture the soul of the individual animal rather than become engrossed in creating the perfect surface – allowing the attention to remain on the life within.
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