Hazel Reeves is a brilliantly talented sculptress who tells stories in bronze. 

In recent years she has secured several prestigious commissions among them the Sir Nigel Gresley sculpture in Kings Cross, London commemorating the engineer and innovator of steam trains, and the Cracker Packer statue dedicated to the women who have worked in the Carrs biscuit factory, now McVitie’s in Carlisle, for over a hundred years.

I’ve been keen to talk to Hazel ever since I was involved in doing some preventive conservation work on her incredible sculpture of Emmeline Pankhurst, Our Emmeline, in the centre of Manchester.

Hazel produces my favourite type of sculpture, large as life, made of bronze and found in the hurley-burley of city streets.

Today, I thought I’d kick off our chat by asking her when she first felt drawn to creating sculpture?

Hazel: Well, I think you have to go back to when I was younger and I was desperate to go to art school and my parents said, ‘No!’ And so, I sort of forgot about that artistic career for many years. Then I was in the Dominican Republic working with the UN on women’s rights and I suddenly got back in touch with all the things I was passionate about: music, drumming, dancing, arts. When I came home, it just came to me that I was going to be a portrait sculptor, which was quite bizarre because I’d never actually done any sculpting nor any portraits, but it’s the only time in my life I’ve actually suddenly realized I had a calling.

Lucy: Did your parents have nothing to do with the arts? Was it very alien to them? Is that why they discouraged it or was it that it wasn’t a proper job?

Hazel: Oh, all of the above. According to my mum, art is a luxury and you only did arts if you couldn’t do anything else. My eldest sister was already at art school and I think they were also worried about having two penniless artists in the family. So it was like, “No, you’re more academic. You could go off and go to college.” And so it was many years later that actually I rediscovered that this is what I should always have been doing. This is my journey and I wouldn’t be the sculptor I am now if I hadn’t been on that journey.

Lucy: So it definitely was something that came to…you’d had to sort of squash it down for quite a long time. I wonder what it was about the Dominican Republic that brought it all to the forefront of your mind. Is it the environment there? Is it a creative place?

Hazel: It’s a very creative place. I really got into the Afro-Dominican folkloric scene there. That’s very much about their music and the dance but it was also a very vibrant place, a very creative place, a very musical place. Also, you’re completely out of your normal environment. Making that transition from the UK to that sort of country, where there is deep poverty in some places, but also working with the UN was a tremendous experience. It was particularly the nightlife and the nights out dancing that just really sort of shook my whole system up. It was like, ah, yeah, I’m actually not somebody to be sitting at a desk.

Lucy: How long had you been on this other career path for?

Hazel: Well, I had several career paths, but the latter career, for brief time reasons, I was really passionate about women’s rights and I went and did a masters at LSE and ended up running a research and communications program on women’s rights, promoting women’s rights internationally. I’ve been doing that for a number of years and as part of that, I had a sabbatical out in the Dominican Republic. I carried on with that career because I’m completely committed to promoting gender equality and social justice. So, I was able to bring both my passions together, and I was learning how to sculpt alongside going to these ministerial meetings, across the world.

Lucy: Apart from the concept of sculpture, there’s also a huge dexterity and practical wisdom that your hands and your brain to hands need to go through because it really is such a technical thing, especially the way you sculpt, you can see that, the clay is very carefully placed on the surfaces. When did you have time to get that technical knowhow, those 10,000 hours, or more that we’ve all got to do to become a master at something?

Hazel: Well, it took a couple of years after my realization that this was what I was going to be. And I got in a course at Sussex University on their Continuing Education Program with Sylvia MacRae Brown. I started at evening class and then it became a day class. And then it became compressing my working week into four days so I could go and spend a day up in London and then it became summer schools and then finally a month in Florence. It became an extreme hobby and then the point when it was like, “Actually, this is what I really ought to be doing.”

Hazel: And the joy of doing a commission, like the Emmeline Pankhurst, was I could actually bring these passions together. So, the passion for women’s rights and challenging inequality, and my love and passion for figurative sculpture. So, you imagine that was an amazing gig for me.

Lucy: Absolutely. And what a fantastic sculpture. I just love her, honestly. She is magnificent and obviously, that’s where you and I came across each other. So, I think she’s going to be in my heart for a very long time. I think we’ve got quite a lot of things in common. I always feel that there’s this lack of females in public sculpture. It’s such a shame because I don’t think it has been an intentional thing necessarily. It’s just a reflection of history and the kind of monuments that were being produced, but there is so many times where I just feel like there’s an emptiness of female characters and they definitely need people to bring them forward. I wonder whether the lack of prominent female sculptors in that area is why? I think that seeing what you’ve done with, Emmeline, and with your other sculptures is something we need a lot more of if we possibly can. So, get working. Work harder!

Hazel Reeves Sculpting The Nigel Gresley Sculpture in her studio. Photo by Roger Bamber ©

Hazel: I think it’s interesting. I mean, when you look at the figures, I think it was the PMSA figures and Caroline Crowe worked out,

There’s only 2.7% of statues are actually of historical non-Royal women. I mean, 2.7%!

So, I can be very proud that I’ve added three sculptures of women since then. There has been a number of other ones since then, but it’s interesting to think about, as you say, why it is such a lack of representation of women. Actually, I think I’ve got a slightly stronger take on that because I think it’s ultimately down to the lack of recognition of women’s achievements and the lack of recognition of women more broadly. So in effect, it’s very much discrimination. I think, it’s also about who makes the decisions over time and who is deemed worthy of capturing in bronze. Inevitably it’s men and it’s all about power and money. So, we’re definitely overdue for more statues of women. It’s not the only way to address the lack of representation of women in society, but it’s my entry point, it is one entry point. I think it is an important one.

Lucy: A lot of conservation begins with historic research, if we don’t have an artist alive who we can speak to face to face, we are hitting published material, but also unpublished. Quite often we are in national archives searching up anything that might have relevance and what I’ve often found is fantastic correspondence that was involved in the creation of these monuments. Very often, the correspondence is by women and they are pushing for these sculptures to be made, maybe they are of their husbands, maybe they’ve had some other connection, but what’s really sad is that often you come across this other aspect of it, which is documents, kind of saying, “Oh, these silly women that want to have these sculptures placed in such and such a place.”

Obviously, it’s their energy that actually brought many of our statues into those locations, but they’re dismissed. So again, it’s that missing link. Women were a big part of the creation of these monuments and that’s not acknowledged either.

Hazel: Yeah. that sounds fascinating.

Lucy: It really is.

Hazel: You must write a book on this, you know.

Lucy: I’ve felt for a long time that, The Secrets Behind Statues, book needs to be written at some point but that’s alongside many other books in my head.

Hazel: I think what’s interesting now is that there are a number of groups of women across the country that are rallying together and trying to address this lack of women in statuary. That’s really interesting and I think the real issue is around the will, but it’s the funding. I think possibly at the moment with the COVID crisis, we’ve got very serious dangers of actually pushing back women’s role in public life to a certain extent. The arts funding has pretty much collapsed at the moment, for obvious reasons. And these projects are not reliant government or council funding, they’re reliant on you and me giving money to support them: a bit like the subscription system in Victorian times, give a penny to fund this statue, but people are going to be going through some pretty tough economic times. It does worry me that that might have an impact on how many sculptures there are and what proportion of those are women. We don’t want to revert back to very few sculptures being made over the next 10 years and then primarily being of men. So, I think that’s something to watch out for.

Lucy: Sure.

Lucy: I totally love your tagline on your website, which, I think I might have to pinch – telling stories with bronze and obviously you know I enjoy writing novels all about bronze. I wondered what it was particularly that drew you towards bronze. Why is it your thing?

Hazel: I think I wasn’t aware of it until I had my first commission, and it was somebody from one of my classes that was a fellow student who could see something in what I was doing in terms of portraits. I sculpted him and then he paid for it to be cast in bronze. So, that’s when my love for bronze and the process really kicked off, my love affair, I suppose you could call it. It is sometimes tempestuous, but on the whole, it’s a pretty good relationship. And I think, first of all, bronze, it’s practical, it’s durable, it’s robust. I mean, as a sculptor working in the public realm, you need all those things. So, that is fundamental, but I think my main reasons for working in bronze are sort of artistic reasons.

It’s a material that can take what I’ve spent months working on in the studio. It can take my very fingerprints, all my marks, all my movement of the clay. It can reproduce that into bronze perfectly. That’s really important for me that it transfers across the process, which is quite an invasive process in many ways.

There’s nothing quite like the feel of bronze and the weight of bronze, just touching it is wonderful, and the colors that can come out through the patination process are quite extraordinary.

It is a very variable and difficult process to get right, but that’s why it is so amazing. I think bronze enables me to tell stories. It enabled me to do something quite extraordinary, which was to position an over life-size woman on top of a domestic kitchen chair in public, in the middle of St. Peter’s Square, Manchester. I mean, that’s a rather unusual thing to do.

The properties of bronze enabled me to tell that story because I wanted to show how in the times of the suffragettes they would be be out on the streets, ringing bells, summoning people from their homes to listen to their speeches. Somebody would grab a kitchen chair and, Emmeline, who was only five foot tall, would be elevated above the crowds to urge them to rise up and demand a vote. Bronze and its strength enabled me to actually tell that story, which I think was quite important. I do work with dancers being a lifelong dance lover and bronze enables me to capture a real gravity-defying pose midair, which would be impossible for the poor model to hold for very long. You can really exude the joy of dance by playing with the balance and that’s only possible really with bronze.

Lucy: Did you try any other materials? Did you work with any others?

Hazel: I’ve worked also with plaster, but that doesn’t have the robustness that I need for things like a gravity-defying pose. There’s really no alternative material. I don’t carve so stone isn’t an option. Bronze resin, which some people use or cold cast bronze as they sometimes call it – that’s not robust at all, I’ve used that, and it’s fine for maybe a portrait, quite a simple form, but anything that’s delicate or involves movement of weight, and the shifting of weight: it just doesn’t work.

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Lucy: There’s the Suffragette Scroll, which is towards Victoria in London. So, just down from Parliament Square towards Victoria. That’s been in place, was one of the only monuments to the suffragettes in London for many, many years that’s made from cold cast bronze. In the old days was called a poor man’s bronze. I did speak to the Estate, unfortunately, the sculptor had dementia at the time, but his wife was saying to me, “We couldn’t even raise the funds for bronze because even though it was such an important monument at the time , there was no money for a female-based history monuments and so cold cast was all we could afford.” It’s an ongoing effort to try and conserve that because it has a rippled scroll effect and the edges are continuously breaking, they’re so fragile.

It’s just the environment really, but also the strain and just the amount of water that then soaks into the interior of it and affects more of the seams. It’s a wonder that it has lived as long as it’s lived because you wouldn’t actually know unless you came up and stroked it, that it isn’t a real bronze. It really is very good, well-made sculpture, it’s just that it can’t be here forever because it’s just not robust enough.

Hazel: Yes, it makes you think that it would be wonderful for that to go into a museum…

Lucy: Yes. Absolutely.

Hazel: …and to have a bronze replace it out so that, it will be there for posterity.

Lucy: I always hoped that one of the incredible female leaders, who break the glass ceilings, will decide that they will patronize it as a kind of a monument to women taking that forward. It isn’t a huge bronze actually, and it’s kind of a special thing. I think you’re right about mentioning bronze and its engineering and what it enables you to do. When you move into looking at Renaissance bronzes you see that suddenly you’re able to get groups doing the most incredibly energetic poses. This is as opposed to previously, when you look at Classical times, where they had zillions of very large scale bronzes (it’s incredible they had the technology to make those, the numbers and the size of bronzes in classical times) but they were all individually posed and quite static. It’s just that suddenly when you hit the Renaissance times, you really see a change and it’s because of the engineering, what they were realizing could be done and experimenting at all those amazing foundries. It’s the time I dream about being able to go back to, if I could ever time travel, I want to go to a foundry in Florence.

Hazel: That would be amazing.

Lucy: That’s what I want to do. They had such incredible capacity. You really begin to see that so early on, and you realize that, actually, we haven’t had that technology for that long in this country. Our earliest large scale bronze, comes hundreds of years later and you realise how incredibly advanced they were with the technology and what they could do.

Lucy: So, have you had any problems with bronze? Have you had any conservation issues that have come up in any of your statues, maybe during the making or something?

Hazel: I think both sculpting and the bronze casting process are basically problem-solving processes. So, at every stage they’re likely to be problems and so you’re always asking the question, how can I get this close to where it needs to be? Artistically or in terms of how can I make sure this wax is faithful to my original clay? Or how can I get this patination to work? I think it’s about a close relationship with the foundry. I worked with Bronze Age sculpture-casting foundry because they’re figurative specialists. We have a very close relationship to solve the problems as we go along so, there aren’t any nasty surprises. We’ve worked out a plan how to sort it out and I do feel that tension until it’s actually winched into place, that tension, it’s my responsibility to get it from a space that is possible from my clay right through to the final product. But I know and I have the confidence of working with our skilled people in the foundry that through them skills in mold making, you know, wax working, casing in metalwork, in patination and I have the confidence that I know we’ll get there. I think they’re very patient with me actually.
Hazel: They never actually say it. But I’m sure that I annoy them completely, I do tend to be quite finicky.

Lucy: You’re allowed to do that because you created her.

Hazel: Exactly. I’ve got investment in it. I think that what’s lovely is the feedback you can get from the people at the foundry. They genuinely want to get it and to meet your vision and, you know, everyone’s on a joint journey together to make this thing happen: they tolerate me.

Lucy: I’m sure they’re thrilled. Very often, it’s a case of a bronze being able to be put into a position, especially in the public realm and seeing how they settle down. There are so many different aspects that can affect a bronze, which you can’t predict because you don’t know how the public are going to appreciate that sculpture. And when I say appreciate, sometimes it’s not always appreciation. Sometimes it’s a little bit more lewd than that. Unfortunately, you get some statues, I don’t know why, but they become public toilets, a beacon for people coming out of the pubs. Then you have others like Emmeline, who actually, when I’d been there after a whole year, she had hardly any damage on her at all.

That is astonishing to me because usually, you would get something, I don’t know, people who are, hanging around and leaning up against a statute and rubbing away the patina, unintentionally, or scraping it with their bag because they’ve got a buckle on the back of the bag and they didn’t realize. Or, you get a lot of people who are thinking that there might be a message to be put up on the media if they tag it with. Actually, with Emmeline, I really saw nothing of that except constant adoration from her public who came to talk to me. I’m so glad people were asking questions. It’s when people let other people get on with things that actually a lot of damage can get done. All sorts of graffiti can be done and people think, “Oh, they should be there. I’m not going to say anything.” Actually lots of things are very hard to predict until they’re in position.

Sarah modelling for Hazel Reeves. Image Hazel Reeves ©

Hazel: I think there’s something about ownership, that sort of community ownership of sculptures that I think makes a difference. With Emmeline, there was engagement with the public from the start, from the very first question, which was why are there no sculptures of women apart from Queen Victoria in Manchester? To, okay, here’s a shortlist of all these amazing Mancunian women. Who do you want to vote for? You know, who do you want the sculpture to be of? And they chose Emmeline, of course. So, from the very early stages, even before I got involved, the local communities were involved and lots of the women’s rights charities have been involved throughout, and I’ve worked with some of them and it’s been a wonderful process to engage with everyone. The unveiling was the most tremendous experience.

I mean, 6,000 people on the streets in St. Peter’s Square. We had a thousand young kids. The noise was incredible and I was leading the March into town with Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst. We were meant to be leading the children, but, of course, within moments, they were surging ahead of us so, we would get left behind with their enthusiasm of shouting out,

“What do we want?” “ Equality!” “When do you want it?” “Now!”

And it was so heartwarming to see these kids so engaged, they’d made up their banners and walking into St. Peter’s Square to meet the throngs which was just such an amazing experience. I don’t want to say, that’s me, but it’s, I guess …if you’d ask me what my ideal might’ve been when I first started the process would be to create a statue that people engaged with. I couldn’t foresee what the unveiling would be like and how hopefully the statue is a catalyst ongoing, and that’s what I’m hopeful for.

Lucy: We actually have very few things that we can do preventive conservation-wise with outdoor sculpture. In a museum you can regulate the environment quite specifically to make sure that there is minimal change to that sculpture, but outdoors, we have a very narrow treatment ability to prevent change. What you’ve just talked about there is an incredibly powerful preventive conservation strategy, which is, begin by engaging people that will appreciate and look after that statue and treat it well and become champions of it. That is just as useful to that object as making sure you’ve got low humidity in an environment at a gallery. I think that should be part of the plan of all the sculptures,

Hazel: What’s been really interesting is that something that probably conservators like yourself would be horrified by, but for example, across the 16 days of Activism Against Violence Against Women, which is an international program in November each year, Manchester charities dressed up Emmeline each day differently. They were trying to get across the message that employers need to be keeping an eye out for any of their staff that they feel might be experiencing domestic abuse and getting them to sign up for a pledge to actually do something about it and be helped with sort of training or what support they can give. Emmeline was dressed up as a doctor, nurse, she was dressed up as, you name it, a teacher, all sorts of people, but done in a very careful and sensitive way. So, there was no use of wire. They’d already thought about it, and talked to me about it beforehand, how they were going to be very careful not to harm her in any way.

The actual outcome and raising awareness of violence against women was a really important role for that statue. In more recent time she’d been seen wearing a facemask for example, in our COVID time. She’s been used for arguments around the need to tackle climate justice as well: she was wearing an inflatable vest so the question about what happens when the sea levels rise. I think that’s the biggest compliment I can get really as a sculptor, for one of my pieces of work to be used as a political tool.

Lucy: Absolutely perfect.

Hazel: And not harmed in any way.

Lucy: And not harmed, but great that they’re engaging with you about it. That’s the thing is that when people actually talk to those involved, who can make sure that they can manifest their ideas, but safely and not without a big consequence to the sculpture, it’s totally doable with public art.

So, I’ve been reading your Nightingale diaries, which I’ve been enjoying, and I know that you are very involved or very inspired by Birdsong right now. I hope that you might be able to share a little bit about what fuels and strengthens your creative practice. I know that you’ve mentioned dance, but have you got a creative practice? That’s a good question.

Hazel: Well, I think initially I just saw myself as a sculptor and I just do clay sculpting for bronze and that was my creative practice. I think over time because I’ve been so caught up with the commissions, I’ve realized actually there’s much more that I want to say, and politics is usually at the lowest level or a more obvious level, but I see myself now, I think, as an artist and sometimes I use sculptures, sometimes I might use Birdsong, and audio-soundscapes.

That’s really exciting. I think I see sculpting in the more traditional form as quite visceral. I’ve always wanted to use this to affect people in some way, whether it’s to bring a smile to their face, affect them in other ways, like, a call to action. I want to affect people. This is where it comes into the storytelling, but I think…I’m actually choreographing stories. I’m choreographing and telling untold stories. I suppose that is my artistic practice, but as it goes forward, I’m much less wedded to only using materials that have a very physical presence. I love the idea of using more ephemeral materials. There’s one project I’ve been working on for the last six months, which is a sculptor using a group of dancers as her dynamic material and actually manipulating these dancers using audio soundscapes.

Lucy: So kind of performance arts?

Hazel: Yeah, it’s performance, but it’s bringing a sculptural perspective to it because I want to know what it looks like. I also want, as a dancer, I always want to know what it feels like as well. I’ve got the view of a sculptor, but also this visceralness that is at the heart of my practice. I want to feel it as I well as see it.

Lucy: So, when I talked about practice, I was thinking about how some people wake up in the morning and they meditate before beginning their day or they journal or something. You don’t jump out of bed and dance? I’m kind of trying to envision what you do of or maybe you sculpt something different than what you’re actually working on? Because no matter how much we love our creations, when it’s a commission, it’s work as well as a pleasure. Is there that other side to it where you’re feeding that creative flow?

Hazel: Ah, that’s interesting. So, I don’t go in into the studio and do a drawing every morning or anything like that.

I’ve come to realize that actually my life is my artistic practice.

So, I spend a lot of time in nature. My studio is in the heart of the countryside. Actually, walking out is where I get a lot of ideas for doing other types of work and as you say, I love Birdsong. My mom ran a bird hospital and sanctuary for many years. That was what I knew, I guess and it’s only now I sort of recognize that that’s where my obsession with recording Birdsong actually comes from and being able to use this in my sculptural work. I don’t have a particular practice.

Lucy: I went to a conference fairly recently, which was about conservation of contemporary art. They had a whole section on how to conserve performance art, which blew my mind because I was thinking, how on earth? I’ve never even considered what might go into conserving that. It was about, of course, exactly what you’re talking about, which is the ideas of the artist and how they can very easily be lost without them being documented, It’s not just about the movement and it’s actually an interpretation but, it was fascinating, though completely mind-blowing and boggling.

Hazel: Yeah, I think it is. I think for me, it’s very interesting to think about how the Dance Project, for example, is something which is ephemeral, and the joy of actually working with other artists: I’m working with a filmmaker, a sound artist, I’m working with, dancers and other artists like a photographer and somebody who is a performance drawer. So, they’re all going to help me document it as, part of the artistic process. So, that will be interesting because I haven’t worked in film, doing soundscapes is new to me.

…exciting stuff.

Lucy: This is not my field, but you need a conservator as well at this stage so that…the concept is to be able to reproduce these things in years into the future where understanding of what’s going on now is not there.

Hazel: Actually I was listening to an interview with one of the former archivists at the British Library who covers audio and it’s fascinating, they’ve got some amazing audio speeches, all types of things, but there’s a very few machines across the world that can still play some of these things and they need to play them in order to digitize them. I hadn’t really thought about that.

Lucy: One of our main sources actually, for understanding original patinas that we use, is audio. So for example, most of the photographs are black and whites when you go back in time and we’re trying to look at what the original patina was. It wasn’t necessarily just a brown bronze or dark-brown bronze. There was nuance and it’s in these audio documents we often have the most fantastic revelations because you listen and the descriptions are so brilliantly done and no one’s written them down in the newspapers. It’s all on audio and people just making comments when they’ve been interviewed about it and things like this, fantastic source of material. I’ll be horrified if they can’t digitize it all!

Hazel: I must say I’m just so delighted and honored that, you and Antique Bronze, are the ones that are looking after My Emmeline, it makes such a difference to know that a statue is being looked after being maintained across the years. I wish more of my clients did the same and brought you in.

Lucy: It’s one of those things that I don’t really mind if it’s not me even, preventive care is much better than having to start restoring things, because there’s nothing like the beauty of bronze when it can be brought along carefully and managed. You just can’t add the extra part that time adds to something if it’s been well looked after. I think that there’s such beauty in that, and it’s just such a shame to lose it. These sorts of spiky ways of looking after things -something’s restored and then left for 50 years and then restored again. It’s not a good way to go about it and it’s not necessary either. So, I spend a lot of time trying to get people to just think about the long term. Don’t just think about getting it there, but what happens afterwards? Hopefully, it’s something that becomes part of the psyche of creating lovely monuments in the future. Maybe people will think more forward.

Hazel: Yeah. And I think they did with the Pankhurst project. They’ve built-it in to their funding. They allocated a large lump of money to pass over to Manchester City Council so they could afford to maintain Emmeline across the years. I think that’s very forward-thinking.

Lucy: Yes, well thought through. Let’s just finish up by telling me, what’s on at the moment? Have you got anything exciting in the studio?

Hazel: Oh, well, there’s always projects in the studio. At the moments with the bigger projects, they’re sort of waiting for funding, which has all been a bit stalled at the moment. I have been working on various different portraits and I’ve got some cluster work. I’ve got to be working on some heads and figures, which is quite fun to do. I’m working in wax and doing some experimentations with dancing, dancing figures to show the agony and the ecstasy of dance, which I’m looking forward to doing. I’ve done some work at Bronze Age on the waxes there, and I’ve been playing with mud as well. So, that’s been very interesting. So, using mud as a sculpting material.

Lucy: Very good.

Hazel: It’s not because I haven’t got any clay. I have got plenty of clay.

Lucy: The COVID situation has made us all have to tighten our belts and be more creative in our thinking, but, mud, wow!

Hazel: Yeah. So, sort of playing with mud and then going out to recording the Nightingales is sort of, my idea of the perfect day.

Lucy: Well, that’s a creative practice in itself, isn’t it?

Hazel: It is.

Lucy: And have you had good results with it?

Hazel: What’s interesting is because it’s an experiment, I’m documenting and photographing what happens with what I’m doing. It’s a combination of working with the mud in a more formal sculptural way, seeing how that works. That’s been interesting. The first one I did collapse within 10 minutes, which is what I thought it probably would do.

Lucy: And is that mud from your garden or is this special mud?

Hazel: This is special mud. This is from the land surrounding my studio. So, I’ve been given permission to dig up different sections and with the idea of actually returning sculptures to that place by the lake in the meadows and documenting what happens. I love this sort of idea, which is opposite to you. I love the deterioration of things as well and what happens accidentally. We’ve got lots of animals around. So, what happens, when a cow tramples through my sculpture? What does it look like? I want to be capturing it on TimeLapse using cameras out in the country to actually see what happens.

Lucy: I spend a lot of time studying degradation, and I’ve gotten to appreciate, it more, actually, as I’ve got older, I’ve become more interested in things that degrade and I quite like them. I don’t necessarily want to sweep it all away and renew it. I’ve worked on some Hepworth bronzes in St. Ives and the way that some of the Hepworth bronzes have changed is so beautiful. There’s a balance and discussion about what you’re doing because, obviously, she had a particular vision for her sculptures, but actually I wouldn’t bring myself to advise anyone to alter the way that they’ve changed because to me, the fact that they’re slightly haggard is fabulous. You’d never get the patterns form that actually formed naturally. I think that…it’s a fascinating subject to see where things go to.

Hazel: But I think yes, the patination is one of those things that it is a mystery how you get the colors initially and then how they change. And sometimes you’re nicely surprised, sometimes not so nicely surprised.

Lucy: Sometimes you’re horrified.

Hazel: I had one piece that I thought I was very proud of the patination, I really loved it. Then it was exhibited outdoors and ended up under a sort of leaky drainpipe. I loved what it turned into, it darkened rapidly and with little flecks of turquoise. Now it looks like it’s carved from granite.

Lucy: And you could never have created that in a million years. If you’d have tried, it would never have happened. No, I think there’s some masterful stuff in there. I remember going to see, over at Perry Green, the Henry Moore’s, which is just another magical place to go to. I noticed there was a sheep that had adopted one of the sculptures and had slept in it each night and it was this fabulous alcove he slept in. They said without fail, he went to his bed at night and got in and curled up. It was thick with lanolin, really thick because of the amount of lanolin on the sheep’s coats. You could literally peel it off, but he was so happy. Now, to him, Henry Moore had created him a huge bed with this little light, dip for him that fitted his little body perfectly. I really hope you get a sheep or a squirrel or something that appreciates your sculptures.

Hazel: Well, I think with Henry Moore, he did those beautiful drawings of the sheep by his studios at Perry Green, didn’t he? He has really loved sheep. So, I think it really may have been appropriate.

Lucy: Maybe he wasn’t creating high-minded artistic concepts, just sheep beds.

Hazel: I think, he wouldn’t have minded that.

Lucy: Thank you so much, Hazel, for taking the time to chat to me today. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Hazel: Likewise, it’s been a pleasure. You have such a fascinating life.

Lucy: Oh no, not at all. I’m just very lucky that I’m surrounded by sculpture all the time. That’s just where I want to be. So, just tell me, where can people find you if they’d like to look at your work?

Hazel: Probably my website, which is www.hazelreeves.com and I’m on Twitter, @HazelReeves and Facebook as Hazel Reeves Sculptor... and Instagram as well. Again, Hazel Reeves Sculptor. So, I’m out there and it’s great to be able to get some feedback and see everybody else’s inspiring ideas as well on social media.

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