Harry Gray has made figurative sculpture at the highest standard for over 30 years.
"My training began at artschool where I was fortunate to be taught techniques by tutors familar with both traditional and contemporary approaches to artwork". This strong grounding informs the many commissions for statues and portraits he has been awarded. He has kept up this area of his practice alongside his contemporary public art commissions.
Below is the case study for the Sir Hugh Myddleton statue that Harry was commissioned to make for one of the niches on Holborn Viaduct in London.
Sir Hugh Myddleton 1560 -1631 is celebrated for the construction of the New River, an ambitious engineering project that brought fresh clean water from the river Lea in Hertfordshire into the heart of London. I was given full access to the City of London archive to research the commission which proved vital in understanding the shapes and textures of the clothing that Myddleton wore.
The first stage was to make smaller scale figure study. I hired a professional model for the project and
made a measured 3 dimensional study by hand. Many sculptors skip this stage as it is time consuming however this results in inferior work because clothing only hangs naturally if the underlying form is true. I have always loved drawing the human figure so this stage of the process comes naturally and is always a pleasure.
I decided to portray Myddleton deep in thought as he considered the problems of creating the New River and how to persuade James 1st to fund it.
Once the scale model is finished and cast into plaster then work can begin on the stone figure by carefully scaling up and transferring a series of carved reference points from the plaster to the stone until the forms are revealed. An all consuming attention to detail is required for this work because there is no room for error - you can not stick a piece of stone back on!
When roughing out I like to leave a bit of stone above my final surface so I can change my mind over an expression or a texture.
After all the effort it was a tremendous thrill to see the work up in position on Holborn Viaduct, hopefully for hundreds of years, but perhaps it is more important to pass on some skills to others. The video below shows my daughter Charlie aged 10 assisting me. (she has since decided to pursue her interest in mathematics - less dust in her hair).