Rachel’s sculptures brim with personality and character.
These are qualities that the sculptress seeks above anatomical perfection and photo realism as she explains...
“I single out the ‘odd-ball’, the ‘bold’, the ‘poser’, the ‘bewildered’ and the ‘quirky’. I’m less concerned with making copies of nature and more interested in the life within the creature.”
The miniature bronze versions of her subjects, uninhibited by surface details, seem to convey a very real sense of that ‘life within’ and often a cheeky sense of play. Some are static; a finely balanced seabird, standing on one leg, feigning sleep and beak tucked under wing. Others stretch up to see out or over, and others gambol, roll, play and even pee!
Having grown up surrounded by art, with a grandmother and mother running the Albany Art Gallery in Cardiff, she can barely remember a day, meal or holiday without the intervention of canvas or cast being discovered, or debated. A close family friend, Sir Kyffin Williams RA, certainly had a big influence on Rachel. With his love of people and animals as subjects (including Rachel at times) he gave her the belief that one could really be an artist and live by ones trade.
Rachel often paints in a similarly furious and thick textured way. Although she is known for her sculpture, she uses this much more rapid technique to ‘capture’ the moment she has seen. Sketchbooks have become folders, have become boxes, have become cabinets containing countless images models and moulds, all filled with the obvious passion for living things and excitement for making.
She grew up with as many animals as possible. From reptiles to horses, dogs to stick insects - her poor parents endured them all! Now living with Matt and their two sons - Basil and Clay - on a small holding in rural Cambridgeshire, Rachel has again surrounded herself with animals. Animal husbandry and self sufficiency is perhaps a greater ambition for her than making Art, which is why she is perhaps so confident and unconcerned with traditional portraiture. They keep pigs, ducks and many other creatures, all of whom are models at times. I asked whether she distinguishes between her animals and men to which she replies,
“Not really! Well, our family motto is ‘my animals, my men, then me’, so really the animals come first!”
Her partner Matt is also a well known artist and works on large public commissions such as the recently opened Corpus Clock in the centre of Cambridge. Their work is on completely different terms and scales, but they clearly share many ideals and the love of the life in all things living. Their ambition is to move to a more rugged landscape than the fens and live with more weather, land and animals. This will surely fuel their incredibly productive efforts and undoubtedly inspire us all within future sculptures.