You can find an article about the work I do in this month’s edition of Michelangelo called “Sculpting The Natural World”. The article was written by myself (Richard Gunston).

Here is the full article:

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” ~ Michelangelo

My love of nature and beauty of the natural world started at an early age where I was drawn to the inner being of plants and animals and a perceived relationship that transcended the norm. I was born in a small town called Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape, growing up barefoot on gravel roads, jumping steam train carriages, moving a few times, relocating to Windhoek, Namibia and finally Cape Town in the Western Cape. The love of travelling and seeing natural places especially of artistic significance has always drawn me.

Residing in the Noordhoek valley where sun meets sand, always close to the ocean, a scenic area of the Cape Peninsula allows me to be in touch with what matters, the environment. I always found creativity to be part of my soul, deriving great pleasure in creating something out of nothing, hence my parallel career as a horticulturist and landscape designer – I never try to improve on nature but rather to emulate it.

I have always been drawn to the great works of grand masters in classical sculpture, and have a deep love for specifically Michelangelo’s work. I clearly remember the impact his work had on me and the emotional connection I had which has remained with me. I realised how remarkably talented these people were to create works out of marble in perfect proportion and perspective. It is so much easier working in clay as all mistakes are quickly remedied. I needed to try, a novice with the heart of a grand master, and systematically tried to find my own way, finding 3-dimension out of a 2-dimensional reference quite easy to visualise. I am very drawn to the classical style with my own sculptural detail, as I find that this never really dates. No matter how many decades pass, classical style work always remains attractive.

Great pleasure is derived from creating sculptures and being blessed by a client who shares the passion I had in creating it. Being self-taught, utilising my acute and analytical ability to see detail, looking beyond the obvious, I start with the basic shape until all proportion is correct. As a landscaper, the texture of calloused hands affords a unique detail in the clay. The uniqueness of my work I feel, is in the style of detail.

This does differ depending on subject, as commissions to do family pets or family members necessitates a limited free hand to ensure an accurate likeness, off-the-cuff subject matter reflects complete freedom of aesthetic detail, and a racehorse, for example, done a few years ago had to be absolute realism. I am very pleased I am able to move between all styles depending on subject.

“Your gis lie in the place where your values, passions, and strengths meet. Discovering that place is the first step toward sculpting your masterpiece, Your Life.” ~ Michelangelo

Everything of beauty around me inspires me. It gets me thinking how on earth such perfection came about. I love creating wildlife, not to copy but because they move me so deeply. I have evolved into sculpting human form but will always reflect the connection to nature, as we are one. 

“Gazing on beauti l things acts on my soul.” ~ Michelangelo

My sculpting road has been a long one, working on private landscaping jobs to raise funds to create sculptures, hopefully sell some and reinvest those funds back in to create more. Work was sold by word of mouth, sometimes through galleries. A recent historically prominent Namibian family member became what I would deem to be a patron, purchasing and commissioning multiple pieces which allowed me to do so much more, for which I am eternally grateful.

I undertook a few large pieces purely to test my ability and force myself to think beyond mind’s confines. Those large pieces were my chance at possibly selling them and allowing my growth pace to escalate. The most recent life-size male lion attacking a warthog is my most ambitious work to date, completed in clay and mould, with the hope that someday, someone would see its appeal and see it through to bronze and completion. I know that it will be my best achievement to date once in its completed form.

I have been fortunate to have my work in homes as far afield as London, Laguna Beach California, New Jersey USA, South of France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Namibia and numerous local SA sales. I have been asked to immortalise deceased pets or a specifically rewarding commission to do Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a 3-yearold family friends’ son.

I have dealt with most purchase requests personally and run my home and studio as my personal space/gallery for interested individuals to drop by. My website gives a broad view of my story, my work and has offered success, as has Facebook and Instagram. Pieces created vary in size from palm size to life-size. I accept commissions but often try to steer a client in a more creative direction.

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