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Sculptor Poppy Field, who works at Warren Park Heritage and Craft Centre, commissioned to produce life-size bronzes of the Queen and Prince Philip for Royal Albert Hall's 150th



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When sculptor Poppy Field moved into a commune of craftspeople near Bishop’s Stortford in November 2019, she declared the “soul nourishing” environment meant she could believe in the impossible.

Two years on and she has been selected for a prestigious project to produce life-size bronze figures of the Queen and Prince Philip as part of the Royal Albert Hall’s 150th anniversary celebrations. The sculptures will be unveiled in the summer.

Poppy has a 650 sq ft private studio at Grandey’s Place, Warren Park Heritage and Craft Centre, near Green Tye, which was founded in 2019 by philanthropist and chocolate manufacturer Clive Beecham to help sustain the UK’s heritage crafts.

Poppy Field's maquettes – small preliminary models – of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
Poppy Field's maquettes – small preliminary models – of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh

The sculptures of the Queen and Prince Philip by Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) Finnis Scott Foundation scholar Poppy will fill the empty niche in the south porch of the historic building. Her fellow scholars Tom Brown and Tom Nicholls will produce stone figures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for an empty niche in the north porch.

In her design statement, Poppy said her goal was to “visually connect” the statues of the Queen and Prince Philip with the depictions of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as well as “represent something unique in each statue that would together embody the romantic appeal of their royal marriage”.

She sculpted her initial maquette with the first official photographs of Queen Victoria, with her head turned at a three-quarter angle towards the viewer, and a 1954 painting of the Queen, in the same pose, in mind. But she ultimately turned the Queen’s figure more towards the viewer so that her sculpture would better “fill” the niche.

Queen and Prince Philip at the State Opening of Parliament. Picture: PA (53367032)
Queen and Prince Philip at the State Opening of Parliament. Picture: PA (53367032)

Her sculpture of the prince contrasted with the Queen’s pose, which conveyed a sense of “gravitas and constancy”, with the duke’s dynamic qualities brought to the fore.

Her design statement continued: “Like Prince Albert, Prince Philip was a forward-moving man as modern as tomorrow and this is perfectly captured in a press photograph from March 1960 where – quite remarkably – Prince Philip seems to sweep through a doorway while maintaining a level of restraint (largely due to the characteristic clasping of hands behind his back).

“I combine the immediacy of this posture with the projection of Prince Philip’s left foot off from the base – a direct visual reference to the statue of Prince Albert in front of the south porch.”

The commissions were given following a competition process which involved a short list of seven QEST sculptors.

Poppy has a 650 sq ft private studio at Grandey’s Place, Warren Park Heritage and Craft Centre, near Green Tye
Poppy has a 650 sq ft private studio at Grandey’s Place, Warren Park Heritage and Craft Centre, near Green Tye

The Indie reported in February last year how a piece by Poppy had been selected from more than 1,500 entries to appear alongside works by some of Britain’s leading artists at a major exhibition in London.

A reduction of Poppy’s life-size bronze Everything is Now – whose auction sale funded her return to the UK last year from a residency in Italy – appeared in the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries.

She revealed that finding a suitable studio had proved disheartening, but, after being put in touch with Clive Beecham, a visit to Warren Park when it was just a building site revealed its potential. And after moving to the centre she described it as “an incredible place” where she felt she could “believe in the impossible”.

Royal Albert Hall, London
Royal Albert Hall, London

Ian McCulloch, president of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “The hall is in our temporary stewardship, and it is our duty to ensure it is here to inspire generations to come.

“I felt that we should commemorate the hall’s 150th anniversary with something tangible, and these sculptures will finally complete the façade of our glorious grade I listed building.

“This anniversary gives us the opportunity to leave a legacy of public art of a high quality and craftsmanship, for which we are honoured to commission the QEST scholars.”

Poppy's initial maquettes, with the first official photos of Queen Victoria, with her head turned at a three-quarter angle towards the viewer, and a 1954 painting of the Queen in the same pose in mind
Poppy's initial maquettes, with the first official photos of Queen Victoria, with her head turned at a three-quarter angle towards the viewer, and a 1954 painting of the Queen in the same pose in mind
Poppy Field (53199205)
Poppy Field (53199205)


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