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DAVID FIELD Freelance traditional sculptor (London) - Paddington Trail & Sherlock Bear
sherlockian-sherlock.com interview - David Field's website: davidfieldsculpture.co.uk
There are lots of Sherlock Holmes sculptures around the world. Now we’d like to give information about a really special one. Though the artwork was made some years ago, it still has its actuality. This special sculpture was designed by Benedict Cumberbatch in 2014 for a project called The Paddington Art Trail. Lots of artists and famous people worked together at this charity event. More Paddington bears were designed, exhibited and then auctioned. The project raised money for NSPCC, UK’s leading children’s charity and the sculptures adorned the streets of London from the 4th of November to the 30th of December. The bears became extremely popular, made many people smile and showed the beauty and diversity of art.
It is a great honour for us that talented sculptor David Field, who made the Clay master Bear figure for the Paddingtons, gave an interview to our site.
Please tell a few things about yourself. Do you work in other branches of art besides sculpting?
I am from Northern Ireland and now live in London. I have worked as a commercial Sculptor and maker of Props and Architectural models for over 25 years in Theatre, Tv, Advertising, Public Art, Film and Retail Display. In addition to this I am a Ceramic Artist and Fine Art Photographer.
Why did you decide to be a sculptor? Would you name a few artists who have impressed/inspired your work?
I did not start out with the intention of being a sculptor, photography was my initial passion but I discovered Pottery at an adult education night class in 1989 and became hooked on clay and creating pots. For several years I worked in a Pottery learning the hard craft of the Potter. At the time I was inspired by American Potter, Charles Bound, to take my pottery beyond the traditional table top wares so I went back to college to do a BA and then an MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art in London.
Between these 2 courses I began working in Theatre and Television, working for various companies in Cardiff and London as a Scenic Artist and Prop maker and it was in these workshops that I grew to love sculpting characters on a large scale. While living in London in 1998 I was extremely fortunate to become the studio assistant of Eduardo Paolozzi, the Queen’s Sculptor for Scotland. His life long dedication to his work was very inspirational.
What are the things that inspire your art? Is there any subject that is especially important for you?
I am inspired by many things. Nature, our place within it and responsibility for it, is a current theme.
Is there any special reason for making your sculptures (the Paddington bears) from clay? What other materials do you use?
The Paddington sculpture was made from clay because you can create any texture or shape with it. It is the perfect sculpting material. It is convenient to use because if a piece of the sculpture is wrong then it can quickly be replaced and the new pieces blended seamlessly together. I was invited to sculpt the clay Paddington figure for the Paddington Trail in 2014 at a company in London called 3deye. They were responsible for turning the single clay sculpture that I made into over 55 glass fibre Bears that were then customised and painted. There were over 30 artists involved in the project.
It is common when sculpting objects commercially to use materials such as clay, plaster, wax, silicone rubber, glass fibre and polystyrene.
What sculpture/artwork are you the most proud of and why?
I am most proud to have been involved in the Paddington Trail project. Most of the things I have made in my career are in the background but Paddington is a character who has been loved by people all over the world for many years. When the 55 bears were displayed on the streets of London I joined the crowds of Bear seekers who went out to find them all. I was very moved by the obvious love for the character that I could see. To have been part of the project was very special.
How long have you been a Sherlock Holmes fan? How did that start?
I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan for over 35 years. Like many I first encountered Sherlock in the Hollywood movies starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. From there I began reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books.
Which is your favourite story from the Canon and why?
My favourite story from the canon is of course The Hound of the Baskervilles. The element of the supernatural really spoke to me in this story. I liked the fact that Holmes and Watson were out of London, running around on the dark moors being chased by something otherworldly. I actually get goose pimples every time I think of it.
Who is your most beloved Holmes actor and why?
My favourite Holmes actor is Jeremy Brett closely followed by Basil Rathbone. Both were experts at conveying Holmes fierce intelligence. My favourite Watson is of course the bumbling and hilarious Nigel Bruce.
Which is your most treasured Sherlock adaptation and why?
The Hound of the Baskervilles is my favourite adaptation purely because of its supernatural atmosphere. It has worked well every time I've seen it no matter who the actor playing Holmes is.
On some pictures that show you at work, you have your headphones. Do you listen to music a lot during making sculptures? Who are your favourite artists/bands?
I listen a lot to music when working. If I have to work fast then I listen to fast music, Rock or Electronic, maybe Van Halen or Ultravox. If I'm making something very complicated then I'll choose instrumental music by Brian Eno or the score to Lord of the Rings or perhaps BladeRunner.
How did you get involved in The Paddington Bear Art Trail projekt?
I was initially invited to sculpt a small maquette for the project by 3deye and then asked to make the full sized bear when the model was approved by David Heyman, the producer of the Paddington movies and the Harry Potter films.
Besides the Sherlock Bear which were your favourites?
My favourites were Sherlock Bear and the classic Paddington. The classic Paddington was designed by Paddington’s creator Michael Bond.
How many famous people did you have the chance to meet during the project?
(I met Bennedict very briefly in 2011 when making props at Londons National Theatre for the production of Frankenstein. A very nice chap he was too. And a damn fine actor.)
I only met one well known person during the Paddington project and that was Michael Bond’s daughter who came in to see the finished 55 bears in the 3deye workshop. She loved them.
It's elementary. We too.What happened to the bears? Were they all auctioned for charity?
The bears were all auctioned for the NSPCC charity. Nearly one million pounds were raised.
Would you tell us something about your current work and future plans?
At the moment I'm working at home in my new studio on some architectural models and hope that when Lockdown restrictions are lessened that I can get back to working on some exciting projects.
We wish you lots of success to your recent and future projects. It’s in the air that a new Paddington Bear movie is planned in 2023. We hope that in connection with the film people will remember fondly the amazing Paddington Trail project. It was an honour that you answered our questions. Making this interesting interview was great fun. You mentioned that most of your works are in the background – but your art shines through. You are acclaimed by the public and by the world of artists as well.
You have made wonderful pieces designed by legends like Keith Richards (a ring with skulls) or Slash (an octopus sculpture). We would be glad to show these our visitors. We encourage them to do some investigations like Sherlock Holmes and have a look at them on your website or Instagram. Wishing you the best!
David Field sculpted Sherlock Gnomes as well. And the Paddington Trail project was not the first
occasion for him to make a bear, he has several other bear statues.
Not only Benedict Cumberbatch designed a special Paddington Bear.
Actor Stephen Fry also took part in the project and created one sculpture. It is called the Union Jack Bear.
Paddington has another Sherlockian reference. Hugh Bonneville, who plays Mr. Henry Brown in the movie,
starred in the Granada series as Victor Savage with Jeremy Brett, in the episode called The Dying Detective
(And to note another funny coincidence, he was born in Paddington.)