The Making of Sculpture, from Imagination to Installation
Angela Hunter was born in 1951 in Galashiels, and is now married with two grown-up daughters and living in Innerleithen. Since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 1999 with a B.A.(Hons.) in Sculpture she has been able to continue sculpting, working on both commissions and gallery work. Her preferred medium is bronze, making small works in wax and larger pieces in plaster or clay for casting in either bronze or bronze resin. She is essentially a figurative artist, sculpting both human figure and animal studies. Her degree show 'Plaster Sheep' has featured in several exhibitions and magazine articles.
She completed a large commission for the Turnbull Clan Association in 2009, making a monument to commemorate the event whereby the first of the Turnbulls, one William de Rule, saved King Robert The Bruce from being gored by a wounded bull. For her research she viewed the wild white cattle of Chillingham, from whose herd which is entirely wild apart from feeding in the harshest winters she was given a skull, and checked out a battlefield re-enactment and photos of a Rodeo, but the National Museums of Scotland advised that there were no surviving examples of a woodsman's clothing from the period therefore paintings had to be a source of information. After creating an 8-inch maquette, she rented accommodation in a former mill at Walkerburn where she created an armature to support the clay, building out the form on a frame, with clamps and welds to hold the sculpture in place using rods and dowels to indicate the required depth of clay and hold it in place. Visits to agricultural shows like the Royal Highland to observe the anatomy of cattle was helpful to formulate how the muscles might expand and contract, especially on areas like the neck. At this point in its development, cycling round the sculpture each day gave her a fresh eye on its creation, wrapping it in damp sheets overnight, and holidays were out of the question as it took shape, with a shirt placed to see where the folds might be and hair put on the hero's head to show the impact of his struggle - but there was no evidence of how the handle of his dagger might have looked, consequently research in the National Museum of Scotland suggested that the simpler the better for a man of his standing.
The next stage required a team to come from Powderhall Bronze Foundry, painting the sculpture with layers of silicon rubber like the icing on a cake and removing the limbs to gain access. Back at the foundry, wax had to be applied carefully to upwards of sixty sections of the mould to maintain an even thickness. When this was done, larger, hollow sections were assembled by welding the wax pieces together then filling with 'investment', which is a refractory material consisting of plaster, grog and fine sand. Wax runners which resemble dowelling rods are then welded to the bottom of a pouring cup using a hot knife and go to various parts of the sculpture, when melted out these wax runners will leave a cavity for the molten bronze to flow to the sculpture. Risers are then attached to the top of the pouring cup these will act as vents to release hot gases and air from the cavity of the mould when the bronze is poured. The wax sections with runners and risers are now ready for investment to be applied to make the outside mould, then a face coat of 'Luto' to a thickness of 10 cm is applied. Phosphor bronze was the choice for the piece, which is usually an alloy of 97% copper, plus 4-6% tin, 3% zinc and 25% phosphorous; the phosphorous does away with the need for lead which was used in previous times to aid the pour of the molten metal.
The emergent design had to be sturdy enough to withstand rugby types sitting on it, and a patina of mineral salts was added to give an ageing process. A square base was supplied by the Council for it to be installed upon. For the unveiling at the Homecoming in 2009, over one hundred people from around the world assembled in Hawick to hear inspiring speeches by local historian Alistair Moffat and Wally Turnbull from the USA who had been instrumental in fundraising.
Among her other commissions, penguins by the City Churches in Dundee gave an opportunity for humour since it was reckoned that the worshippers needed cheered up, and while the little birds have been vandalised with paint, their wax polish facilitated removal of the graffiti.
A monkey on an information sign also in Dundee recalled an organ grinder's visits for a fair, while a squirrel at the city's High street celebrates its record population of squirrels in Camperdown Park.
Lambs grace the garden at the Margaret Kerr Palliative care Unit at the Borders General Hospital, while the portrait bust of Ms Kerr is in the waiting room.
Rugby commentator Bill McLaren is installed in Murrayfield Stadium.
First president of The St Andrews Golf Club David Todd and the 'feathery' golf ball inventor Allan Robertson have been commissioned as trophies.
At Gourock her sculpture forms the Radical War Memorial to commemorate the eight who died in the uprising of 1820 whose survivors were sentenced by Sir Walter Scott to build the Radical Road round Salisbury Crags.
Gourock also has a life-sized girl on a suitcase, with destination labels on her suitcases and round the base the words of Kenneth MacKellar's The Song of the Clyde, she has been named Annie perhaps because she is seen as the grand-daughter of Granny Kempock, the popular name of a nearby Megalithic stone.
A recent commission for the Friends of Wemyss Bay Station has been a boy dressed in 1950s style carrying a boat and a fishing line, who has become known as Bobby, while most recently Angela has also had fun sculpting a friendly alpaca which paid a visit to her studio.
More information can be found on www.angelahunter.co.uk