An exhibition of recent sculpture by Mark Coreth

Every artist or sculptor has his own approach to his subject, his own methods and his own way of depicting the animal that he wants to portray. For me to capture the essence of my subject in sculpture I like to become that subject in every possible way. The ideal for me is to travel far and wide and to find my subjects in their own environment. However in order to make the best use of this , considerable study is required from trips to the Natural History Museum, the viewing of some of the many stunning films produced on television and reading countless fascinating books which contain wonderful photographs. There are also the zoos.

To see the animal in a zoo gets one face to face and up close to some magnificent and rare birds and beasts, but they are so sadly parted from the environment for which they were intended. You get inner sightings of sadness, the penning in of the soul of the animal, the lack of freedom, the eagle that cannot fly or the carnivore that cannot release its natural instincts to hunt and survive.

There are zoos and zoos in the world. Some lead one to tears by their ghastliness. Those zoos that capture and suppress their animals are contemptible, cruel and totally unacceptable. It could be argued however that they also teem with sculptural creativity; a good subject for a morbid sculpture which could result in a hugely punchy and poignant creation, a message that could demonstrate to the world the tragedy of man and beast.

Thankfully there are now many wonderful, modern zoos that are a vital link to the possible survival of our finest species, a gene pool, a link in a breeding programme and a secure, albeit captive location for those endangered species. Animals in these zoos are actively given stimulation to use their natural instincts and given larger and more interesting enclosures to allow them more freedom and ensure that they are as happy as they can be in captivity.

The animalier sculptors of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries studied almost all of their subjects in zoos, with Antwerp Zoo being the mecca of some of the finest sculptors of the time. Rembrandt Bugatti, in my opinion the greatest of all animalier sculptors, spent the majority of his time here and some of his most outstanding works were produced on his stand in front of his subjects. The often static yet energised form of his sculpture shows his genius. It would be interesting to see how his sculpture would have moved ahead had he been given the freedom of modern air travel to see animals in the wild.

In the way that Bugatti would sit with his turntable in front of an animal or a bird, I also find that to be my preferred approach, the huge difference being that I am able to travel to some of the furthest and most inaccessible regions of the world to look for subjects, whether a common game species or an incredibly rare animal such as the snow leopard. The magic of this approach is that I am a guest in their country, living in their environment where they are in control. Here I have the privilege of being able to learn how they live, their problems, their hardships and their freedoms. By looking for an animal, whether it be an old bull elephant, a tiger in the jungles of India or the snow leopard way up in the Himalaya , one almost learns to become that animal and understand its way of life, a bit like becoming an ‘animagus’ ( for those who wonder what that is, read Harry Potter!). When I have a full understanding of the subject, the creative energy can be put into my work; work that I like to create on my turntable with nothing but the subject, my wire and my plasticine.

Work produced in the field captures the raw essence of the subject as you see it. The work I produce has inevitably to be made at speed with energy and immediacy. These are my field studies, sketches in three dimensions. I do not allow myself to be tempted to alter these studies once back in the studio because what I bring back from the field has the soul and the spirit of that animal or bird and the raw environmental conditions that I was working in e.g. the deep cold of the Himalayas or the dust and heat of Africa. On return to my studio I bring back a store of knowledge and understanding of the subject which can then be directed towards creating more studied pieces and in larger scales; my field studies are limited in size by what I can carry in my backpack studio!

I have always been totally committed to conservation. The more I have travelled to various parts of the world, the more I realise the pressures that the world’s species are under, pressures that are almost invariably imposed upon them by man. I want so badly through my sculpture to raise awareness of these issues and one way or another to support our environment and its species before problems become irrecoverable.

The “five journeys” of this exhibition all took place in an intense two years of sculptural adventures.
Snow Leopard on the Rocks
Small Running Boar
King Penguins, Swimming
Albatross in Flight, Lifesize
Scorpion Armoured Car
Flying Upland Geese
Pair of Magellanic Penguins
Standing Bear Cub
Balancing Bear Cub
Running Bear
Walking Bear Cub
Running Bear Cub, lifesize
Bear Cub, maquette
Small Charging Elephant
Elephants at the Waterhole
Charging Bull Elephant
Small Running Ostrich
Snow Leopard Landing
Triumphant Soldier
Standing Sheep
Pair of Elephant Seals
Three Gentoo Penguins
Reclining Bison
Scratching Bison
Tiger Descent
Tiger Descent, Medium
Tiger Descent, miniature
Snarling Tiger Bust, Maquette
Stalking Tiger Bust
Walking Tiger
Snarling Tiger Bust
Stalking Tiger, Maquette
Seated Tiger
Albatross in Flight, Maquette
Grazing Elk
Eurasian Sparrowhawk in Flight
Charging Bull Elephant, Lifesize
Snow Leopard, Field Study
Snow Leopard Grooming
Walking Snow Leopard
Flamingo pair
Stalking Tiger, Lifesize
Condor in Flight
Three Elephant field study
Pair of Meerkats
Snow Leopard Bust