The Wondrous Beauty of Driftwood Horses

Exploring Heather Jansch’s website is a journey of creative discovery and immense beauty.

Imacon Color Scanner“Possibly the most instinctive act of my life was to fall in love with a horse. Not just any horse, but a horse made of driftwood by the wonderful Heather Jansch. It was at exhibition at Eden and the time came for it to go home. I simply couldn’t bear it. I bought it and have been fighting off would be purchasers ever since. Heather is a genius with an eye for nature that in another generation would have seen her burnt as a witch – now she is rightly considered one of our country’s finest artists. If you were to ask the visitors to Eden “what is your favourite work here? It would be the horse and we gave the entrance to our kingdom to this horse. Richard 111 see it and weep.” ~ Tim Smit KBE, founder of The Eden Project

Smit’s description of Heather’s works is perfect. I too fell in love with her horses, fashioned out of driftwood. Combining horses and gifts from the sea melded my two greatest loves in nature. Since discovering Heather’s artistry, I’ve tried to envision individual pieces of driftwood as she must. Not an easy task. Exploring her website is a journey of creative discovery and immense beauty whether the visit is a few minutes or a few hours. Heather explained how her career developed beyond the simple but rewarding drawings that sold well.

“I had moved to Devon where quite by chance the property I bought was close by both [Newton Abbot and Devon & Exeter racecourses]. Going to the races became a regular activity; I sketched the horses in the parade rings and my paintings naturally reflected the bright colours of the jockey’s silks. I began to sculpt, experimenting first with clay and plaster and later with copper wire which was a bit like drawing in the air. It resulted in some rather interesting and classical looking pieces that reminded me of da Vinci’s horse sketches but they lacked the power and essential nature of the horse I sought. Then out of the blue the answer came in on the tide. Driftwood. It was like a thunderbolt, I had never seen sculpture like it and knew I was finally ready to show my work to the world. It was like line drawing with wood. As a child I never could have dreamt that it would be driftwood horses that would make my name. Courcoux and Courcoux, a Stockbridge gallery specialising in contemporary fine art, took me on as one of their ‘house artists’.

“The first driftwood horses were small-scale and that remained the case until I was offered a solo exhibition at Saltram House. The beautiful stable courtyard cried out for a monumental sculpture. It had to be a life-sized mare and foal. When I sat on that first big thoroughbred mare I knew she would carry me anywhere I wanted to go. The consequences of the change in scale were huge, and happened very fast; the press loved the life sized horses and so did the public.”

heatherjanschhorse sculpture
As I wandered around Heather’s website, I knew this was a treasure for every horse lover. Enjoy.

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2 Comments to “The Wondrous Beauty of Driftwood Horses”

  1. Here is a neat video showing the making of a driftwood horse!

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