Inspiration

Stephanie Quayle

Sculptor Stephanie Quayle hails from the Isle of Man and is one of 14 female artists showing at Saatchi’s Champagne Life exhibition. Marking the gallery’s 30th birthday it is its first all-female show and runs from 13th Jan – 6th March.

Hey Stephanie – how’s it going? Did you get up to anything good for Christmas?
My husband and I have just become parents for the first time, our little three-month old son was the best present we could hope for. Our Christmas was less snowballs and cocktails and more puke and poo. A big Christmas dinner at the farm on the Isle of Man with all the family; can’t ask for more than that.
 
How much clay did you use for the life-size cow pieces?
Each cow has just under a ton of clay – roughly 60 bags of terracotta clay each – just a bit heavier than actual cows. The cows were part of an original herd of cattle shown in TJBoulting’s basement gallery where they had to be built on site in a few days, I like to work very fast and let the clay become inhabited. I want to shine a light on our connection with the natural world and why we are fast becoming so disconnected from it.

Is it terrifying when you transport your larger pieces to a gallery? Although bigger they must be easier to knock bits off in transit? 
It would be easer to transport real cattle! It is very nerve-wracking at times, I work between the Isle of Man, London, and Japan, so the crates have to be well made! The raw clay pieces are especially tricky, I kiln fire them when possible but that creates a whole different set of worries- sculptures have completely exploded at the mercy of the heat in a kiln!
 
You’re exhibiting at the Champagne Life show at the Saatchi Gallery with 13 other artists from all over the world – have any of the other pieces caught your eye at all?
I’m really looking forward to seeing the work of Jelena Bulajic and Sigrid Holmwood.

You’re also an international award-winning ice sculptor… how did you break into that world?
I unwittingly applied whilst as student at the RCA and headed off to an international Ice festival in Latvia in 2006 with just a couple of wood chisels, where I met my now husband, Darren. He laughed at my tools, taught me all I know and we have competed together ever since. I fancied getting my hands out of the clay and mud and dealing with something fragile and pristine, Carving in temperatures of minus 30, is the exact opposite to the heat of kiln fired clay. We’ve been lucky to travel all over the world and met some very talented characters along the way. You have to work very quickly over long periods of time, and when it’s finished it’s actually nice to see sculptures melt away.

Where can we see more of your work? 
My website or I also exhibit with TJBoulting Gallery in London and The Horiuchi Foundation in Japan. The next exhibition will be in Tokyo towards to end of the year.