When I begin a new piece I do not sketch or build a frame – I love seeing the shape evolve from a pile of hundreds of sticks to a full-size horse. I try to ensure the confirmation is accurate and aim to capture the essence of the horse in character, nobleness, or attitude.-Jane Foddy
These days, there are hundreds of sculptors across the world, sculpting everything and anything. Equine art is no different. It seems nearly every day you hear of a new, bizarre sculpture created out of something people would never dream of. From cell phones, keyboards, horseshoes, recycled metal, to kitchen utensils, you name it, someone has made it. And yet, people still come up original ideas–like Jane Foddy’s willow horse sculptures!
My sculptures have reached many parts of the UK from Northern Scotland to the south cost and the east and west of the country. Some large sculptures have travelled to the Dordogne in France and to the Island of Guernsey. I’ve had requests from Australia, South Africa, the USA, Europe and Canada, but the cost of transportation makes it unlikely.
Customers often send me a picture of their sculpture in position, for example a Red deer stag in woodland or a heron next to a pond. However, because the demand for horses and deer is so great I make few birds and small animals as there is just me.
I must admit I dreaded retirement because I didn’t know how I was going to occupy my time, but now both my husband and I are full time engaged with our sculpture business. Keith calls himself my personal assistant or PA and frees up my time to concentrate on sculpting.
Sometimes people ask for sculptures that are out of the ordinary such as a Highland cow or the ‘Three Billy goats Gruff’ for a man who tells his grandchildren he has a troll under his bridge! And I can’t resist. But mostly it’s horses and deer these days.-Jane Folly
TFS: How long have you been creating these unique sculptures?
JF: I started to make my willow sculptures four years ago when I retired from teaching.
TFS: How did you come up with the idea to use willow?
JF: Willow is a great medium to use with children enabling them to produce 3D pieces quite quickly. I used it in school mostly on topic based themes – for example we made a Lancaster bomber, Spitfire and a wide range of insects.
TFS: Do you have an artistic background?
JF: No, not really. I studied art at Teacher Training College but it was very basic stuff. No-one in my immediate family was artistic.
TFS: How long have you been creating art?
JF: A very close friend got me painting and showed me how to use water colours and acrylics effectively. However 3D art has always appealed so when I spotted a course to make a willow chicken I jumped at the chance and was hooked!
TFS: How do you make these sculptures? Can you explain your process?
JF: The willow I use must be soaked to make it flexible which takes several days. I weave some rings, fix them together and make a basic structure using longer lengths of willow. The detail is woven on top until the shape satisfies my eye. I look at pictures to ‘get my eye in’ but do not measure or build a frame, the sculpture just keeps on growing.
TFS: Do you exhibit at any shows?
JF: I have exhibited at the Tatton Flower Show in Cheshire, UK (a Northern version of the Chelsea Flower Show) twice. Now most of my commissions come from the magic of the internet!
TFS: Where can people see your art?
JF: My work can of course be seen on my website and open days by arrangement. You can also see one of my racehorses outside a pub of the same name in Chester, home of a famous race course. Or a War Horse in a similar location or a red deer stag at my local garden centre. The ‘Wilmslow Art Trail’ event is held every year whereby local artists and potters display their creations in shops in town. My sculptures are a little too large and hence people are invited into my garden.
TFS: Do you ride or own any of your own horses?
JF: My grandfather bred horses and the first one I sat on was a magnificent Shire when I was three years old. It was like perching on a mountain – I still remember the thrill today, which is possibly why I am drawn to these horses.
TFS: Any works in progress?
JF: I have several pieces in progress – a Shire horse and foal, and an 8’ tall horses head for an exhibition in Doddington Lincolnshire, UK. I am also making a Heavy horse for a museum dedicated to the history of farming.
TFS: What do you find works best for promoting your sculptures?
JF: Most enquiries and orders have come via the internet from Google image searches we assume, in addition to recommendations of course. Our website has attracted most enquiries to date and Facebook is now equally important.
TFS: Any wise words for aspiring artists?
JF: Start small!
Thank you for allowing me to interview you and share your sculptures with my readers, Jane!