For the past 30 years I have been studying the human head, fascinated by a desire to unravel its mystery. The sculptural journey that I am undertaking has footprints… these are my bronzes. Sitters include Billy Connolly, The Late the Rt Hon Viscount Tonypandy and Great Indian Sage HWL Poonja.
A portrait is finished when it embodies the life essence of each sitter. I am to transform the clay so that it breathes the very life of the model, both visually, energetically and representationally. Engaging in a magical process of observation and investigation to re-discover the language needed to transform the clay beyond mere technique or idea. Simplicity and quietness allow for more to be seen and a strong and direct likeness to emerge.
Luke Shepherd Sculptor
Very few people have their Bronze Portrait Busts made in their lifetime. My aim is to regenerate an appreciation for this most powerful of art forms — the portrait sculpture. I find the portrait bust to be one of the most intensely challenging tasks. Imagine the most physical, visual and mathematically challenging puzzle you can – then double it! The making of a great bronze portrait sculpture is all of this. I view modelling as a magical process of observation and investigation. Rediscovering the language needed to transform the clay beyond mere technique or idea. I strive to deconstruct the form of the sitter before putting it back together, in a fashion that intensifies the sitter’s presence. This involves understanding what elements make the presence of the sitter unique, removing what is unnecessary and changing what is crucial, before reassembly. In this way the viewer not only gains a vivid representation of the sitter, but is transported through a doorway into the world of the sculptor’s construction and creative processes.
Too traditional to be taken seriously at Art College, yet too gifted to be ignored, Luke Shepherd has always made portrait busts, working directly in the clay without the need for preliminary drawing. He became recognized early in his career as a portrait sculptor with his distinguished and enduring bust of the late George Thomas – the Rt. Hon. The Viscount Tonypandy – speaker of the House of Commons 1976-84. The bronze was selected from over 14,000 entrants for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and subsequently purchased for the public collection of the National Library of Wales. . . Luke has a long string of successful public and private commission to which he has re-introduced a renaissance style approach based on time-honored skills. This has led him to generate close links with the Royal College of Surgeons of England where he teaches portrait modeling to plastic and maxilofacial surgeons.
Critical reviews and press coverage
2011 BBC Escape to the country
2005 International Journal of Surgery
2004 Devon Today
2004 British Medical Journal
2003 The Sunday Times Colour Supplement
2003 The Times
2001 BBC Spotlight News Coverage
2001 Carlton TV News Coverage
2001 BBC World Service Interview
1985 Diploma in Lost Wax Casting, Royal College of Art, London
1983 BA Hons, Fine Art, South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education, Cardiff
1980 Foundation Course, South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education, Cardiff
2015 MAA 65th Annual Conference Exeter University
2015 1914FACE2014 Conference Exeter University
2014 Lecturer, Sculpture for Surgeons, London
2007-10 Royal College Surgeons Course, Cambridge
2007 Saltash Community School, Cornwall
2006 Lecturer, Royal College of Surgeons of England, London
1995 Part-time Lecturer, Fine Art Department, Cardiff College of Art
1995 Part-time Lecturer, Foundation Department, Cardiff College of Art
1995 Workshop Leader, Portrait Course, Berllanderi Sculpture Workshop
1990 Workshop Leader, Foundry Course, Royal College of Art, London
1990 Workshop Leader, Margam Sculpture Park, Swansea
1987 Workshop Leader, Fine Art Department, Limerick Art School, Eire
Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
South Glamorgan County Council
University of Wales
Theatre Royal, Plymouth
Areas of work
Bronze casting, metalwork, model making, sculpture, teaching
The human figure, nature, portraits.