Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Michelle Obama and Prince Harry

Look who's sitting in front of the Matthew Flinders maquette at Kensington Palace today...

Michelle Obama and Prince Harry
Article in Adelaide Advertiser

Monday, July 21, 2014

Matthew Flinders unveiling ceremony

Today, at Australia House in London, Prince William unveiled the Matthew Flinders statue. 

'I should like to congratulate the sculptor, Mark Richards, for producing a beautiful statue and for telling the story of Captain Flinders with such elegance.'  The Duke of Cambridge. 

It was a wonderful occasion attended by hundreds of guests and supporters of the project from around the world.

From the left; Matt Johnson, Bill Muirhead, The Duke of Cambridge, Alexander Downer and John Allen

Master of Ceremonies, Deputy Agent General Matt Johnson, officiated with characteristic warmth and consideration.

After heaping much deserved praise upon the Duke of Cambridge for supporting the statue project, HE High Commissioner Alexander Downer spoke with tenderness about Matthew Flinders and his role in creating modern Australia.  He also initiated a period of silent reflection for the appalling tragedy that yesterday befell passengers on the Malaysian airliner in the skies above Ukraine.

Agent General, Bill Muirhead, expanded on the Matthew Flinders legacy with humour and apt and generous praise for the project and his fabulous team at Australia House.

Chairman, John Allen gave a heartfelt speech on behalf of the Matthew Flinders memorial committee before presenting Prince William with his maquette.

Lastly The Prince gave a moving speech...transcript below

High Commissioner, Agent General, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your very warm welcome.
I know that I speak for all of us here when I acknowledge our deep sadness following yesterday's disaster in the Ukraine.  For all of us who have lost fellow countrymen and women in the tragedy, words cannot do justice to our sense of loss.  For Australians, and for our Malaysian brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth, the crash is a particularly cruel tragedy coming so soon after the loss of MH370.  Please be assured of my family's thoughts and prayers at this time.
Earlier this year, you will know that Catherine and I had the great pleasure of spending time, with George, in Australia.  In South Australia, we visited an organisation that will long live in our memory called the Northern Sound System.  There, we met young people – some from very difficult backgrounds – who were turning their lives around through the power of music.  The place was Australia at its very best: young, innovative, caring, cool … it was a truly uplifting place. Australia is a very dear country to me and Catherine, and so I am particularly honoured to have been invited today to celebrate a man who did far more than anyone to place Australia – quite literally – on the map.  I am aware that this statue, and its eventual placement at Euston station, involved a lot of hard work by a committed group of supporters, but there are some who deserve a particular mention. 
First, I should like to congratulate the sculptor, Mark Richards, for producing a beautiful statue and for telling the story of Captain Flinders with such elegance.
I should also like to acknowledge and thank the many people and organisations who have contributed financially to the project.  Although backed by the Government of South Australia, this has been a privately funded initiative.
Finally, I should like to congratulate the Steering Committee for achieving so much.  You have truly honoured the memory of Captain Flinders in London.
In closing, I would like to make two brief observations about the figure…I should say figures….not to forget Trim the cat.
First, I appreciate the way this work communicates Captain Flinders as a man of action, strength and determination.
Second, I very much appreciate the sensitivity of the inscription around the base of the statue.
Some of you may know that Matthew Flinders had an indigenous Australian on board HM Sloop Investigator…an indigenous Australian with whom he clearly had a close rapport.  His name was Bungaree, a person Flinders described as “worthy and brave”.  "Worthy and brave" is a description that is just as apt for Captain Flinders himself. 
Thank you for inviting me to commemorate this great man with you all. 
Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to what was a fitting tribute to a great navigator.

To find out more about Matthew Flinders, please visit

The work is being moved to the concourse at Euston Station this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Matthew Flinders statue installation at Australia House

The work is transported from Castle Fine Arts Foundry in Wales to Australia House for the unveiling ceremony.

Arriving at Australia House, London

The plinth goes in on makeshift ramps.

The base is lifted from the truck....

....and fixed to a dolly.

Lastly the statue is brought in...the only way to get him through the door is to manhandle and slide him down the ramp

A gantry is erected to lift the pieces into place

Chris, Tom and Terry from Castle Foundry.

The lighting and backdrop go in and preparations for the unveiling ceremony begin.

Monday, July 14, 2014


A wax positive is taken from the mould.  The wax is painted in to the same thickness as we want the bronze to be.  I make my final adjustments.

The wax is cut up onto sections small enough to fit the pouring containers.

Once the sprues (for the bronze to run and the air to escape) have been added to the wax, it is invested in a ceramic shell.

After the wax has been melted out of the investment, it is inverted, packed into sand and filled with molten bronze.

The cast bronze sections are welded together and the seams 'chased' back to blend them in with my original modelling.

The base section has been sandcast as one and the hugely skilled Andy Carroll takes out a few twists and turns with RSJs and clamps.

The various parts begin to come together....

....and the final sections are finished off.

The stainless steel plinth arrives, unpolished, and is fitted up to hold the base.

The base and plinth are offered up to each other...

...and adjustments are made by Andy and Marcus Marmaris.

Marcus sends the welded plinth off for polishing.

The polished plinth comes back a few days later and the final stages are in sight.

John Neilson tidies up his lettering with tungsten-carbide chisels directly into the bronze.

The bronze base is [polished and the lettering patinated.

The compass is finished off and the front point is registered onto Cape Leeuwin where Matthew Flinders began his circumnavigation.

I like the has the feel of a stamped image.

We check all the fittings and contact points.

The patination begins.

Wax is applied to the patianted bronze surface.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Justin Spink

This morning, Matthew Flinders's great great great great great nephew, Justin Spink, and his wife, Frances, visited the studio.  What a treat it was to meet them.

Justin, it turns out, is a top garden designer

The clay figure was pretty well ravaged during the moulding process, but I pieced together what was left to give Frances and Justin an idea of the completed clay.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Matthew Flinders Sans - Inscription

Matthew will be working on a map of Australia etched into a bronze disc.  An inscription summarising his achievements will be made around the outer portion of the disc.  To do this, we have to sand-cast a large base, 1755 mm in diameter, in one.  In order for the inscription to read, I have to leave the surface of the bronze unpatinated - raw metal in other words - and any welded joins will show up.

The first step is to make a pattern and I am lucky enough to be working with a couple of truly wonderful artists.  Letter designer, John Neilson, and wood-carver Barry Davies.  John has designed an original font for this work; this will be named Matthew Flinders Sans The letters capture something of Matthew's era, have a hint of the swashbuckle in places and the design is peppered with nuances that delight the eye.  John was given a great many words to fit into a limited space and has done so magnificently.

Barry will be carving the letters into a giant mdf disc which he has constructed so that it is workable, flat and easily fixed to a backing plate for transport and casting.

From left to right, me, John and Barry in Barry's studio overlooking the Tanat Valley.  What a place.
John has digitised his design and has printed it out to align with the disc.  Here it is on the template which will be used to position the figure.  This will ensure that the contact points do not encroach upon the lettering.

Once I have marked off on my template, the position of John's design, he traces it down onto Barry's mdf former.

A week later, I visit Barry to check on progress and am astounded at the quality of his work  He has not only revealed the beauty of John's design, but has added to it by cutting the work with vigour and panache.  He got a hug, which he was certainly not expecting.  In my experience, the Welsh don't really do man-hugs off the field of play.