At work in the field – in conversation with sculptor Knox Field


The Luxury Channel speaks to sculptor Knox Field, a rising star in the world of animal sculpture.  Renowned for his incredible bronzes, Field’s sculptures are fast earning a reputation for capturing the majesty and movement of some of the world’s most iconic animals. We caught up with him ahead of the Born Free Foundation’s Footsteps To Freedom Ball, where his copper etched plate of Elsa the lioness will be auctioned in support of wildlife conservation efforts….

Tell us a bit about your background?

My early days were spent in West Sussex, where I grew up. I attended a really arty school, that was less traditional in its outlook to education. From there, I went to Brighton for an Art Foundation course, and then on to Brighton University to study 3D design. The take-away being, I was never going to be an accountant. I did, however, love to create with my hands. When I was 16, I spent a week working with sculptor Mark Coreth, and to be honest, that was it. He has a lot to answer for. Post-Brighton, wanting to pursue a sculpting career, I worked as a metal chaser at Lockbund Fine Art Foundry to learn the lost wax casting process and really immerse myself in the world of bronze sculpture.

How did you then take this forward?

I had done a few commissions prior to joining the foundry, mainly of pet dogs. This sort of work kept trickling in; however, I was very lucky when Simon Allison, the owner of the foundry, seemed to like me and my work. He supported me in creating a body of work that I could show in exhibitions and take to galleries. From there it was very much a case of honing my skills and finding my own styles and techniques of creating work – something I now know to be a never-ending game that is a joy to play.

Where are you based?

I am based in Cropredy, in Oxfordshire in the UK. My workshop is a stone’s throw away from the foundry, which is fantastic as I can work really closely with them on my new works, and pester them five days a week! It’s also great as I get to meet and talk to a number of the other sculptors that use the foundry. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I work with any of them, but it’s fantastic when I’m trying to solve a tricky problem, to stick my head out of my workshop and see Hamish Mackie walking past.

Did Covid-19 affect you?

I’m not sure there are many people that can say it didn’t. The biggest disappointment was a project I had been working on for six months being halted in its tracks. I had been developing a new series of copper etched work that I was about to launch with a gallery in the New Forest. Sadly, Covid put the kibosh on that. One of the works had also been shortlisted for the David Shepard Wildlife Artist of the Year Award. I had another exhibition at a gallery in London cancelled and replaced with an online Zoom version – which wasn’t quite the same as enjoying an evening in the capital at a prestigious gallery.

Where do you show your work?

I’m currently showing with Rowles Fine Art in Ludlow – a fantastic gallery I have been working with for years. I show with them at many of the major art fairs across the country, including The Game Fair, at which, for the past two years, I have done a live sculpture demo at the front of their marquee. I have also worked with a number of wildlife funds and charities selling work in an effort to support conservation, and have participated in a number of other exhibitions across the country.

Tell us about some of your current commissions?

I have had some really exciting projects in the past year to get my teeth into. For starters, I have recently completed my first piece of public sculpture – a life and a half size Indian Antelope, which is to be unveiled in June. The location can’t be revealed yet, but it’s an incredibly exciting project that has been years in the making.

Last year, I was commissioned by MiCannes music festival, in Cannes, France, to create a small sculpture to be given as award for outstanding work in the music industry. The cheetah portrait I created seemed to go down a storm, and has now been adopted by the festival as their official prize for at least the next five years.

Another great project has been the creation of an etched copper plate of Elsa the lioness, featured in the famous Born Free book and film. It will be auctioned at the Footsteps To Freedom Ball, an event curated by the Born Free Foundation, a fantastic charity, originally set up by the star of the film, Virginia McKenna, in the 1980s.

My most recent commission, and the reason I’m doing this interview covered in modelling wax, is a private commission of a peregrine falcon on a gauntlet, ready for a hunt. For me, it’s a really exciting challenge, as I’m adopting a style of working that is new to me. I’m very keen to capture the sleek and deadly look of the bird, and to this end, I’m ignoring my usual MO and concentrating more on form, rather than texture.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Something that I love about my chosen path is that with every commission, and with every piece I create, I learn more about the craft. Obviously, my aim is to be recognised and respected within the field. I am still relatively young to the world of sculpture and I’m excited to forge my own place on the stage.

What art do you like on a personal level?

My personal tastes in art have become more varied in recent years. There are the obvious greats in the animalier sculpture scene that cannot be ignored. However, I would like to mention Nichola Theakston. Her work exudes tranquility, and I can’t help but want to close my eyes and try to embody the peace her sculptures portray. I am generally more drawn to non-abstract work, as part of the joy I find in art is in the skill of the artist in representing their subject. I can’t say there is anything “unusual” that I’m particularly inspired by. However – and I know how clichéd this sounds – inspiration is literally everywhere. It’s mildly overwhelming.

Have you always been inspired by wildlife?

Absolutely. Having grown up in the deep countryside on the edge of the South Downs, and possessing completely technophobe parents, I spent my time with friends, hitting each other with sticks in the woods. This means that much of my early life was spent outdoors surrounded by nature. I feel this can only have instilled in me a love for the natural world, and the animals in it. I love to create British wildlife sculpture, and to this end I have recently completed a grouse and a woodcock. Birds seem to be the thing at the moment. That said, there is something special about working on a predator, whether that be hunting or at rest. Perhaps it’s something about the tension a predator brings to the table. I love nothing more than stepping back from a sculpture of a big cat and seeing death staring back at me.

What was your favourite piece you have ever worked on, and what made it so special?

I’m not sure I have a favourite. I certainly have a least favourite, but let’s not go there. Something I have learned is not to become too precious about a particular sculpture. I can guarantee, every time I look at a piece I did a year ago, or even a month ago for that matter, I know I could do it better next time. If I was forced to choose one though, I do have an affinity for the Otter. I love his movement and I’m really delighted with the composition as a whole. I think what made him so joyous to work on was the sleekness of his body and working in a flowing manner. I’ll let you decide if he is special, however…

Finally, the one question we ask everyone – what is your favourite luxury?

Food, wine, cars – and everything in-between!

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