The life-size hares of My Hares and Graces are created using one of the oldest forms of human expression – clay and human hands. Each hare has its own mould made from silicone with a fibreglass resin casing. The hares are hand-cast using an acrylic resin (Material One from AMT Composites). They are meticulously finished by hand so that each one has its own special character.
On many occasions I have been asked ‘Why hares?’ - Due to space constraints, in the early days of My Hares and Graces, I needed to work with an animal of a manageable size. I have strong and happy memories of the Karoo and seeing hares darting through the car headlights in the dark. They are mysterious creatures and many a story and legend has been told about them. While they are fine boned, they are also strong and athletic. Their speed and nimbleness generally (but not always) keeps them from predators . They have delightful expressions and were a good start to the menagerie.
The hares are weatherproof as distinct from waterproof. I encourage the owner to photograph the hare in its new environment – wherever that may be and email the photo together with the location e.g. Stellenbosch or Cape St Francis or the photo can be uploaded directly to the Facebook page.
A percentage of the sales of My Hares is donated to the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Riverine Rabbit Project.
There are 14 different hares Lalela - The Listener, Moongazer, Ready Steady… Go!, Hare Apparent, Mvundla - isiXhosa for ‘Hare’, Cambalele – isiZulu for ‘sleepy and relaxed’, uNogwaja – isiZulu for ‘hare’, Mpho – isiZulu for Gift, uMoya - isiZulu for Spirit , Thinker, Nwaya – isiZulu for ‘itch’ and Matasatasa – isiZulu for ‘busy’, Bheka and Dancer.
The very first hare sculpture I made was Lalela, which means The Listener in isiZulu, and many hares have followed her such as Moongazer, Ready Steady… Go!, Hare Apparent and Dancer. Continuing to honour South Africa’s rich cultural heritage there are other hares with names from isiZulu, such as uNogwaja - ‘Hare’, Mpho - ‘Gift’, uMoya - ‘Spirit’ or ‘Wind’, Cambalele - sleepy and relaxed, Nwaya- to itch, Matasatasa - busy, Mahloni - shy or bashful and Bheka which means ‘to look’. I have given Mvundla the isiXhosa name for ‘Hare’.
Jax – Jack Russells were a part of our family for many years – they are small dogs with the heart of a lion.
Maya - this sculpture was named after our very dear Schnauzer….she died of old age and I put here ashes inside the first cast that I made.
Frankie - when my mother first came to South Africa in the early 50’s her first pet was a Dachshund called Frankie….so my sculpture has been named after him.
Misha – I have always loved the soft ears and the gentle eyes of Beagles. During one of the hard Covid Lockdowns, I was asked to create a sculpture of a Beagle who had died…there were not many close up photos of her but I was able to get fabulous references from another Beagle whose owners sent me dozens of photographs via Whatsapp.
Willow – inspired by a visit to The Whippet coffee shop in Linden about 8 years ago, I asked the owners if I could make a Whippet for the shop and use their Whippets as models. The sculpture lived there for a few years. My work is pretty robust BUT it is not designed for public areas unless it has been cast in bronze. Eventually after fixing the tail (its most vulnerable part) three times we decided it was kinder to bring her home.
Billie – Even though I have never owned a Bull Terrier, I have always been drawn to them. The Bull Terriers that I have known have all been well socialized and while they appear to tough and belligerent, my experience of them is that they become complete babies when given the opportunity to snuggle up.
Zella - A dear friend got a Yorkshire Terrier in 2010 during the Soccer World cup. She was named Vuvuzela because all the fans were blowing Vuvuzelas in the stadia…. She became Zella for short.
The inspiration for the cats came from a woman whose beloved Oriental cat had been killed by a car and she wanted to know if I would do a commission. After receiving the photographs from her, I was smitten by ‘Smittie’ the cat with the ‘look–at-me-I–am-so-beautiful’ eyes and felt really keen to make a cat...or two or three.
Georgia is an ‘interested cat’ - maybe she is looking into a fish bowl or a fish pond (or at a mouse?) Bilbo and Baggins were inspired by our own cat who loved to curl up in a warm comfortable spot. Njabulo is a happy cat that is stretched out very comfortably in the sun or in front of the fire. Njabulo means ‘happiness’ in isiZulu.
My favourite muse was Bilbo …. A snuggly, confident cat who loved to be with someone and to be warm and comfortable. He was the model for Georgia, Bilbo, Baggins and Njabulo. I was asked to make the MaineCoon (Colin) and the Persian (Enya) and Smittie came from a very elegant Oriental cat and Anouk was inspired by a Cornish Rex.
BELOVED CAT REMEMBERED
Over the past five years that I have been making my sculptures , the muse for my cats was a much loved family cat. After he died, I created a work dedicated to him and placed his ashes inside.
If you would like to remember your pet in a unique way, please contact me. Choose from a variety of sculptures and finishes and have their name engraved, to remember forever!
Introducing a pair of Pangolins - a mother and her pup.
This breakaway from my domestic animals started in 2019 when I donated one of my hares to an auction for the African Pangolin Working Group. We heard from experts in their field, passionate and dedicated people trying to save the Pangolin from extinction. Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world. They are taken for their meat and for the mistaken belief that their scales will cure a multitude of ailments. In the best of circumstances Pangolin females have only one baby a year.
In 2019, 100 tons of African pangolin scales were confiscated en route to Asia. This meant the demise of 155 000 Pangolins. I was enchanted by these amazing mammals and knew that I would make a sculpture of them…one day. Then COVID happened which was a tough period for me as an artist. During this time I got a call from a woman who owns one of my hares. She asked if I could make a Pangolin and all of a sudden I knew that the moment had arrived for me to make my thoughts real.
I hope that I have captured the essence of these gentle, vulnerable animals.
I donate R100 for every Pangolin sold to the African Pangolin Working Group as well as the Rhino Revolution's Pangolin Protection Programme.
The Pangolins can be made in the silver-grey pewter finish, a brown ‘rusty’ finish or the creamy old stone finish. As with every one of my pieces, this sculpture has a microchip in it so that the new owner knows that it is an original.
Over the past few years I have had many special requests. I can make animals in different colours, pure black or white, bright yellow and ‘pillar box red’. My ‘papered’ animals are all “one-offs” - the papered dogs and cats are very popular however they take a little longer to make.
In 2018, I met Alicia Koch who owned one of my hares. As an admirer of my work, she contacted me with a brilliant idea to use my hares to make bedside lamps, something I had not attempted before. I love a challenge and was immediately interested. At the time, my sculptures were life-size hares, cats and dogs and that size, for a bedside lamp, would simply be impractical. After some brainstorming, it made sense to design smaller, more petite hares that would be used for Alicia’s bedside lamps. The bonus would be a new addition to my Hare collection - smaller Hares that would be accessible to more people.
I named one hare ‘Bheka’ (which means ‘to look’ in isiZulu) and the other ‘Dancer’ (in honour of dancers everywhere). In further collaboration with my Industrial Designer son, we created a base and a neck for the electrical components. This was the start of a long journey, with many ups and downs. Fortunately, Alicia is a determined soul and remained patient in anticipation of her unique lamps. Along the way I met other artists and technicians in the quest for suitable solutions for the light fitting. I also needed fire resistant fabrics to create a unique light shade which according to Alicia’s persistent and strict specifications had to resemble a flower. The end result was extremely successful and the two bed side lamps reside comfortably with Alicia and her husband in their home in Parkhurst. Since then, I have created more Dancers and Bhekas, and have added another small hare called Mahloni (which means shy or bashful in isiZulu) to the Petite Hare Family.
Alicia popped onto my radar at a perfect time when I had ‘space’ to explore something new. Her lovely ideas, once executed, have happily become more than either of us anticipated. Early in 2020, before South Africa and rest of the world were placed on lockdown due to Covid 19, Alicia again approached me with an intriguing idea to make two hugging bears to give her husband for their 8th Wedding Anniversary. Their nicknames are Big Bear and Little Bear and were the inspiration for what has become a symbol of the love she has for her husband; a gift that not only satisfied her creativity, but also evoked the crazy time of Covid 19. I believe the Bears capture the essence of what we all wish we could give our loved ones – a BIG BEAR HUG.
As the lockdown progressed I realized how many people were feeling isolated, sad and desperately in need of connection. It became even more important to let loved ones know they were in our thoughts and had not been forgotten. Being a ‘hare, cat and dog person’ it was not a stretch to get back to my bucket of clay and re-imagine the hugging bears as hugging hares. Thus started my Limited Edition Lockdown Hares which have become a symbol of caring, supporting and holding on tight to one another during Lockdown. When Level 2 ends, so will the production of my Lockdown Hares and they will become a lasting reminder of this particular period in our history. Unique and collectable, there is one pair of hares - numbered, dated and signed - for each day of the Lockdown. Thanks to Alicia, Hugging Bears are now part of my menagerie. I am able to deliver the hares anywhere in South Africa. Upon request, I can engrave a personal message onto my sculptures that will make them a unique and distinctive gift. - watch this space!
I look forward to seeing what other crazy ideas Alicia comes up with in the future.