Sculptor to exhibit two giant horse heads at Venice Biennale art festival

The UK sculptor behind the 33ft Marble Arch drinking horse in London has crafted two more horse heads which will be displayed at the Venice Biennale art exhibition.

Nic Fiddian-Green has created an 18ft piece called Serenity, as well as an 8ft head called I Search Beyond which will be transported by barge down the Great Canal in the Italian city on April 27.

The heads, forged from copper and gold leaf beaten by hand, will then be put on display at the Church of the Madonna dell ‘Orto.

Nic Fiddian-Green artwork
Nic Fiddian-Green puts the finishing touches to a horse head in his Surrey studio (Steve Parsons/PA)

Fiddian-Green has been a full-time artist sculpting horses for 35 years, working with an ancient bronze casting technique.

I Search Beyond weighs 500kg (1,100lb) and took six months to complete. It is part of Fiddian-Green’s Roman Horse series.

Serenity, which is part of the Still Water series that includes the Marble Arch head, weighs 1,000kg (a tonne) and took a year to complete.

Nic Fiddian-Green artwork
Still Water head, called Serenity, weighs 1,000kg and took a year to complete (Steve Parsons/PA)

He said: “I’m thrilled to be showing at the next Biennale. Ever since I saw the horse of Selene, one of the Elgin Marbles, as a student I have followed this lifelong obsession sculpting the horse’s head and I have been fascinated by man’s relationship with the horse over the centuries.

“Part of the exhibition for me is the journey and travelling with horse as generations have done, from my studio in England, across Europe and the Alps and then arrive by sea to the Grand Canal and this beautiful church.

“Here, where the great artist Tintoretto painted the altarpiece and is buried, a vision of the Virgin Mary also occurred. I feel honoured to be showing at such a Holy place – this is Holy ground in this most beautiful city.”

Nic Fiddian-Green artwork
The horse head sculpture will be transported to Venice for the famous Biennale (Steve Parsons/PA)

To create his heads, Fiddian-Green sculpts a clay form and then covers it in plaster. From this he creates a resin-fibreglass form. He then beats copper sheets over the form and uses brass rivets to secure the copper. The final process is to patinate (colour) the metal with heat and chemicals.

The exhibition will take place between May 1 and July 31.

Serenity will be on show outside the church, while the Roman Horse will be inside the building, alongside a five-metre beaten copper monument titled Almighty Hands – a sculpture of the artist’s own hands in prayer.

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