With an estimated 300 million people tuning in today to watch the coronation of King Charles III, there was only one choice for today’s blog! This week I’m going to look back at some of my sculptures with a royal theme…
KING CHARLES II
The first of my sculptures with a royal theme is one from earlier this year: King Charles II. The sculpture is outside The Royal Oak in Gretton and helps connect the pub with the history behind its name. It depicts the story of King Charles II hiding in an oak tree from the Roundhead soldiers following the Battle of Worcester. Although many people forget the connection, it’s thought just under 500 pubs in the UK are named after this event! Find out more about how I created this sculpture in my King Charles II blog.
PLATINUM JUBILEE SCULPTURE
The next of my sculptures with a royal theme is from 2022. It’s my Wildlife Pillar in Wellington Heath, and it marks the platinum anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II. I love history and like the idea of keeping history alive, so I really loved the story of this tree.
The oak tree was initially planted in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. After it died, the parish council wanted to turn it into something meaningful, and they chose something to mark Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee. It’s quite unusual to have a single sculpture that marks two significant jubilee celebrations. And of the two longest-reigning British monarchs – jubilees future monarchs are unlikely to reach. I can only imagine the life and stories that tree has seen!
PLATINUM JUBILEE HORSE SCULPTURE
The next sculpture is also one that was commissioned to mark Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee. This time it was for the John Summers site in North Wales. It’s made from cedar and references the logo of the Enbarr Foundation (which is behind the redevelopment of the site) portraying a horse leaping from waves through a crown, and also pays tribute to the Queen.
PRINCE OF WALES FEATHERS
The last of my sculptures with a royal theme that I’m sharing is going back a few years! It’s the Prince of Wales feathers, installed in an army-barracks-turned-housing-development in Wrexham. Use of the motif dates back to the 14th century, and is now most often seen on 2p coins, military uniforms, and the welsh rugby kit!
THOUGHTS ON HISTORIC SCULPTURES
In recent years there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding sculptures of historic figures, including the monarchy. Some of this stems from things they were engaged in (particularly slavery) and some of it from current attitudes about institutions such as the monarchy and if they still have a place.
I like the idea of keeping history alive. In terms of sculptures with a royal theme, the monarchy has shaped and influenced the course of history for both good and bad, and I think both should be told so we know and understand our past and can grow and learn from it. And realistically, much of any artist’s historic work reflects the monarchy at the time without directly referencing it. A couple of examples from my work being the monks (my Monks of Monksbridge series) would have been chased out of monestaries with Henry VIII’s dissolution, the last Viking battle (two separate Viking pieces) on British soil was in turn the cause of an exhausted army getting trounced by William the Conquerer.
What do you think?
Whether you are celebrating the coronation or not, I hope you have a great long weekend! What are your thoughts on historic sculptures? Or on traditions surrounding days like today? Do they have a place in today’s society? Drop your thoughts in a comment below!