Meet the Artist Behind the 12ft Horse Sculpture at The Great Yorkshire Show
A horse sculpture made of more than 600 horseshoes from across Yorkshire has been lifted into place at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate
Ollie began experimenting with metal sculpting when he was a teenager, learning to weld at 13 under the guidance of his dad, and later studied at Leeds College of Art. ‘Studying opened my mind to a world of possibilities with art and what you can do – it was amazing,’ he says. ‘That introduced me to new avenues. From there, I also discovered design and focused on furniture and lighting for a while. I tried that for a bit but fell back into sculpting – it was more creative and I could do more with it. I was always drawn back to working with metal. I feel like it’s a limitless material. You can do so many different things with it and there’s so much scrap metal out there.
‘I’m all about trying to capture the essence of the thing I’m sculpting by using positive and negative shapes. I feel like that’s a much better process rather than creating a literal representation. Initially I start off with a drawing, then I highlight the negative shapes to get a rough idea of the piece. I use cardboards and templates to get the initial idea of the piece and then go ahead and start creating it. There are definitely artists out there who inspire me. One is Damon Price (from Holmfirth) who creates his sculptures out of clay and wax but the way he creates his shapes has definitely informed my work. I’m also inspired by wire art which is expressive and flowing. It’s hard to find a comparable artist because you want to be unique.’
When Ollie was starting out as an artist he struggled to get into galleries. ‘I really enjoyed sculpting horses at the time and I liked the way we often use them as symbols, for example power, strength or grace,’ he says. ‘It’s exciting to be working on new ideas. I’d quite like to explore the creation of life more; the balance between live and death – but I don’t want to make it too dark!
‘There are always people who will knock you when you’re first starting to make your way in the art industry but appearing on the BBC a few years ago [as a featured artist on the second series of Home is Where the Art is] really helped in getting my name out there and making a living as an artist. A lot of my work has come from down South but I have had some recent success up North in recent years. The Great Yorkshire Show is a great opportunity to show off more of my work.’
Weighing about 750 kilograms, Ollie’s intricately welded sculpture is of a horse rearing upon its hind legs. It was craned into position outside the Yorkshire Event Centre and will welcome visitors to the Art Show and Food Hall at The Great Yorkshire Show from Tuesday 11th to Friday 14th July. The sculpture is entitled Os II – the Yorkshire slang for horse and II because this is Ollie’s second attempt at sculpting a full-scale rearing horse. The first was sold to Cheltenham Racecourse. ‘It’s been at Wetherby Racecourse and Newby Hall, and it’s so nice to be able to show my work where I’m from,’ he adds. ‘All the horseshoes used for this piece are from Yorkshire so that’s a great added touch.’
Creating it was a long term project over around five years. ‘But if you add up the time working on it, it probably took around five months to create,’ Ollie says. ‘I made something similar when I was younger and I thought I’d take a look at it and improve it. I’ve learned to sculpt in more detail. I started with the legs and the feet and I noticed if you stack a few horseshoes together, you can define the muscles better, and this different way of doing it spurred me on to give it a go and give the piece more power.’
To get the form right, Ollie relied on images of horses and handily his parents rent a field for horses, so that was as easy as a quick hop over the fence. Ollie moved a scaffolding frame around his sculpture to get a wider perspective after each adjustment. Some of Ollie’s other work will be available to view and purchase at The Great Yorkshire Show’s Art Show, which will host 14 of Yorkshire’s finest established artists. Os II is also for sale or could be rented out. Ollie has already had enquiries for weddings – but he says it would be nice to keep it in Yorkshire.