OUR SCULPTORS

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ALLEN HALLETT

RENOWNED WILDLIFE SCULPTOR, SAFARI GUIDE AND GAME CONSERVATIONIST

“AN INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF WILDLIFE A KEY TO SUCCESS”

Growing up in the highlands of Kenya, which were at that time teeming with elephants, giraffes, buffalo and all the other plains’ game.  Allen's school holidays and any spare time have been spent either hunting or fishing in the surrounding areas and it was at this time that a deep interest in Africa’s wildlife was nurtured.

 

Allen has been a wildlife Sculptor for the past 30 years, having been a game ranger in Zululand and guiding safaris in South Africa and Botswana.  He now has a studio in the KZN Midlands where he creates his magnificent sculptures that are collected by many Southern Africans and Visitors from all over the World.  His passion for Africa’s wildlife is amazingly portrayed in his work.

 

Allen, often accompanied by his wife Jenny, first spends hours in the bush studying his subject, often returning to observe the animal during the creation of the piece.

He has an intimate knowledge of the creatures he sculpts and has come to know their habits well.  He tells us how, for example, a warthog will wallow in mud, and when the mud dries rub it off to rid itself of ticks;  or how a rhino that’s bothered by flies will kick its stomach vigorously with its hind leg to disperse them.

 

Among Allen’s projects is a magnificent lifesize Ground Hornbill which was commissioned by the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project and was auctioned at the 2015 Thaba Tholo wildlife auction in September to raise much-needed funds for this very threatened bird.  In total, this collaboration has raised in excess of R400 000.  Allen is hoping that through his art he is able to make a meaningful contribution to preserving Africa’s Wildlife.

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BRANDON BORGELT

Brandon grew up in Johannesburg and always had a very keen interest in animals, collecting all kinds of weird and wonderful pets, from snakes to monkeys. At the age of fifteen, he moved to Durban where he worked part-time at the Dolphinarium and Snake Park. 

 

After school, he spent two years in the army and returned to the snake park again. Six months later, restless and full of wanderlust, he took off for the bush where he was involved in a curio venture, game ranging at several private reserves, filming documentaries on lions and hyenas in Botswana and Namibia for National Geographic and the BBC, and eventually wound up managing the crocodile farm at Sun City for twelve years.

In 2010 with his very fertile imagination and creative yearnings bubbling to the surface, he decided to give sculpting a try as it was something that he’d always wanted to do, with his affinity for all things Native American, he sculpted a life-size bust of Fool Bull, (Native American warrior and medicine man ) working from a single photo taken well over a hundred years ago. This figure was cast in bronze and set on.  His passion to create was now ignited and from that point, it was all systems ‘go’ – In 2016 he started to pursue his passion full time.

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BRUCE LITTLE

Self-taught, instinctual, Bruce Little sculpts to capture the spirit of the wild African creatures he has observed and guarded for most of his life.  His technique captures the essential movement and attitudes of his subjects.

Born in South Africa, Bruce developed an early passion for the African wilderness through his childhood spent in the bushveld.  He became a conservationist and professional game ranger, working at the famous private game reserves of Londolozi and Singita in the South African bushveld. For the following ten years, he lived on a private conservation project in the Eastern Cape where he restored Hopewell, a former beef and sheep ranch, to its original wilderness state. This included the reintroduction of indigenous wildlife to the reserve. The twenty years spent in the wilderness have given Bruce invaluable insight into the subjects he holds so dear. 
For the past 21 years, Bruce has worked on sculpting his subjects by focusing less on strict anatomical correctness but more on capturing the deeper meaning of the animals he observes. Bruce says “it is natural for every artist to grow and evolve in one’s artistic journey” and as a result, he has started sculpting a series of pieces with a contemporary aspect, which he feels portrays the animals in a different light but still encompasses the essence of the animal's surroundings, spirit and behaviour.

 

In addition, Bruce has added a human element to his works where he attempts to portray a deep indelible bond that we as humans have with the earth and nature.

Bruce's latest undertaking has been that of a monumental size lion sculpture which is a commission piece from Ceawlin Thynn, Viscount Weymouth of the Longleat family estate, whom Bruce met during one of his trips to the UK. The piece has been created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Longleat Safari Park, the first of its kind in the UK. Though he has previously sculpted numerous life-size and larger than life-size pieces, this monumental lion is, to date, his biggest sculpture yet.

Off the back of the enormous success of the Longleat venture, Bruce was invited to have the monumental lion auctioned off at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Gala event in St Tropez. The event was held in July 2016 where the piece achieved an auction bid of USD1 Million. The funds raised were donated by Bruce to the Foundation which focuses on various environmental projects.

Bruce, whose sculptures range from miniatures to life-size and larger, has exhibited internationally for the last 13 years with his bronzes in collections on all five continents as limited editions and private commissions. 

Bruce is now a full-time sculptor living in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

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CHRIS ROHM

Sculpture doesn't live in a world of flat paint. It glows in the realism of dimension, shape, form, detail and artist interpretation.

 

Although he has always harboured a creative spirit and a talent for working with his hands, it was by chance that Chris Rohm started sculpting. After a gap year in Europe, he returned to start working in a bronze casting foundry where he quickly developed a real love of the whole process of casting in bronze…it was during this time that he started working on his own pieces.

 

Chris, a self-taught artist, captures the character of his subjects in the timelessness of bronze and is a champion of environmental awareness.

“My success as a sculptor is not without difficulties, but every situation provides a learning opportunity. I'll always enjoy sculpting, accepting new challenges, doing work that excites me - that is my future.”

 

One sculpture that is truly close to his heart is the powerful rhino, ‘TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT,’ which symbolizes the hardships the species are going through in order to survive to see another sunset.

The sculptured body is armour plated which resembles the struggle of law enforcement and of game rangers in their mission to protect the rhino. The horn is the focal point and takes the sculpture to a height of 440mm. Bullets on the rhino's legs symbolise the struggle of the animal to survive blows from manmade machines that aim to kill. Standing on a pile of coins indicates what little monetary value the rhino horn is sold for in comparison to saving the animal for future generations.

 

Although Chris’s full-time work in the construction trade is a different form of creativity, the sculpting allows him to get lost in his work and create what will become heirloom pieces. “I get so much satisfaction from sitting and figuring something out. When you look again the process has taken over and that piece of clay in front of you has become something else.”

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LUNGISA KALA

Lungisa Kala was born near Willowvale in the Eastern Cape and moved to Cape Town in 2003, where he started work as a fettler in a bronze art foundry.  Here Lungisa was exposed to the process and techniques used in creating bronze sculptures and gathered valuable skills in working on detailed art pieces.

Lungisa completed various courses in both Tool and Die making and Welding to further his technical skills.

Over the past few years, he has assisted various artists and been part of a team of sculptors commissioned to work on pieces ranging from 40cm to life sizes and up to 9m monumental statues as well as creating miniature sets for a television commercial. Lungisa was part of a mentorship program run by the National Heritage Project Company where he was given the opportunity to create his own life-size figure from concept to final bronze sculpture.

In between working on commissioned artworks, Lungisa now runs his own fettling workshop, but it has always been his ambition to create his own series of sculptures. Lungisa is currently sculpting a collection of personal works of small bronzes, focusing on wildlife as well as re-creating memories of rural life from his past.

Lungisa believes that to achieve anything requires faith, belief in oneself, determination, vision, hard work and dedication! Which he has in bucket loads!

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SARAH RICHARDS

Sarah Richards was born in Durban; her childhood was spent in various places around Southern Africa. She returned to Durban to study Fine Art, majoring in sculpture at Durban Technikon (1985-1990). During the next four years, she travelled overseas to gain experience and insight before returning to Durban to make art and to teach drawing, painting and sculpture to adults and children. She completed her Master’s degree in Fine Art (Cum Laude) at the Durban University of Technology in 2008. Sarah is now living and practising her art in the KZN Midlands.

Sarah has been creating bronze sculptures for the past 20 years. Her passion lies in rendering sculpture which shows an attention to detail, and which gives an impression of movement and animation. Sarah explores many different subjects; this comes from her fascination with the details and construction of the world. Inspired by public sculpture and monuments around the world Sarah enjoys the challenge of creating world-class sculptures for the public commissions she has received. Her smaller figure sculptures include children at play, small figures and nudes.

The important process of creating each sculpture, and in particular, the early stages of modelling, are an exciting time of discovery. Sarah uses a mixture of media including wax and plasticine which allow fluidity and detail and rough Rhinolite for texture and structure. These allow an adventurous exploration into a deeper understanding of the chosen subject. In this creative process, an intimate relationship develops between subject and artist.

The animal and bird sculptures explore Sarah’s love of nature and wonder at the different characteristics of each creature, waiting to be discovered through close encounters and study. The figure sculptures represent an emotional journey in exploring the human form and movement.

Sarah is experienced and well versed at executing commissioned tasks; from small coffee table pieces, to portrait busts and monumental statues. She works closely with her client to creatively express their vision in the bronze works she sculpts.

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MICHAEL MAWDSLEY

Michael J Mawdsley is a highly skilled and talented sculptor of considerable experience and success. Michael`s sculptural work to date covers the triad of African Wildlife, the Human Form and Local Flora. The whole process of taking a basic idea through to a clay maquette through to a finished bronze is what challenges and satisfies him.

Michael John Mawdsley was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia) and grew up in Durban, South Africa. Trained as a goldsmith, Michael spent over 25 years working as a jeweller creating fine pieces, before taking his experience gained in this industry to pursue his ultimate passion... to work with bronze.

Michael finds the bronze art form ultimately more challenging and stimulating. He has a real heart for South Africa, and this is more than evident in the stunning work he produces. Today he is one of South Africa`s top celebrated bronze sculptors. Many collectors travel to the beautiful mountains in the Natal Midlands, where Michael now resides and works.

His incredible talent resulted in him being selected as one of a few artists commissioned by celebrity Dali Tambo (son of stalwart Oliver Tambo) for the National Heritage Project - a five-year project zoned for public display in a Nature Reserve in South Africa and funded by the SA Department of Arts and Culture. This project features various life-sized bronze statues of struggle veterans and freedom fighters, dating from the 1600s to 1994, all standing in a winding procession called "The Long March to Freedom". Michael has so far completed two statues for this project, i.e. Mzilikazi and Dalasile.

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JEFF MHWAZA

Jeff is originally from Harare in Zimbabwe where he grew up making his own toys from the wire from an early age. He now resides in Cape Town South Africa.  After leaving school in 1994, he started studying crafting with chicken wire by working from photographs. This gave him a grounding in creating wire art, but it was directed more at commercial crafting to sell to the passing trade. He saw this as a stepping stone, as his aim was to become an artist, creating works of value that would make people sit up and say, "Wow"!
Jeff sold crafts for about six years before he joined the renowned "Streetwires" in Cape Town, South Africa in 2000 as a designer. He is one of the founding members of "Streetwires", which now employs more than 60 crafters. 
Jeff spent many years learning the art of creating lifelike sculptures using chicken wire. This medium allows the artist to exercise considerable flexibility using a durable medium that retains the shape well. It is however a very specialised sculpture art form and complex pieces can take a considerable length of time to complete. These sculptures are often enhanced by painting to provide a more real-life impact.
Jeff achieved his acclaim when he created the Nelson Mandela Madiba bust, which was a 4-month process, and entered it into the Democracy X exhibition Cape Town CCDI 2004 competition titled "The Living Legend" and won first prize (category). He followed this in 2006 with a larger than life-sized statue of Madiba entitled "First Step to Freedom", which is now on display at the Mandela Rhodes Place Hotel and Spa in Cape Town, and, had two sculptures on display at the 9th South African Design Indaba - "Mohammed Ali" (Cassius Clay) and "Madiba" (Nelson Mandela). He also exhibited his work at the Brett Kebble art awards, AMS Give Them Wings exhibition.
Around 2008, Jeff was looking for a sculpting approach which would allow the flexibility of chicken wire sculpting but using separate random wire pieces. Over the next few years, he developed a technique he calls "Random Wire Sculpture", which allows the ability to create high-quality sculptures more easily than using chickenwire, while having the ability to capture the essence of movement required to accurately portray African wildlife in an extremely lifelike manner. These unique artworks are very much in demand due to their very lifelike quality. In particular, his portrayal of the Cape Mountain leopard is unique.
Jeff has taken this technique and has trained over 600 aspiring wire sculptors and crafters in adapting his technique to create lifelike small animals for the tourist trade.