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April Shepherd

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With a passion for animals, nature and wildlife, acclaimed contemporary sculptor, April Shepherd is responsible for originating fastidiously expressive three dimensional works that focus their visual attentions on the core subject matter of movement and interactions with the natural world. Shepherd’s sensitive studies of a variety of animals discovered in the wild are not hindered by the labouring on sentimentality as is so often the case within this specific genre of art. Horses remain Shepherd’s main inspiration, and her visions and final realities are habitually enriched through her long-held fascination with literature, folklore and mythology; although she lends this cross-fertilisational approach and consideration to other animal muses too.

One of Shepherd’s most widely recognized and well received collections to date have been her smoke fired horse series, whereby the established artist has delved in and explored the concept of weightlessness within this realm, and questioned whether or not an animal’s perceived girth and distribution of bodyweight would necessarily mean that at key times it might, feasibly be unburdened by density, and therefore restriction of flight and natural trajectory. Shepherd believes that through the expression of extreme, spontaneous and fluid movement such as that typical of a horse at full tilt, its intrinsic, earthbound nature could well be tested and challenged.

Shepherd deploys a diverse mix of media to put her equine-derived body mass/flight questions to a visually and creatively intuitive audience, including clay, bronze and resin, whilst continually pushing the somewhat conservative boundaries of what can and cannot be facilitated and adapted for sculpting usage within a purely and physically creative contextual surround. Working almost entirely without armatures allows Shepherd to maintain full control of the evolving piece and energise the forms she creates. Through loose yet definite mark making, she works vigorously, ‘pulling out’ a shape that instantaneously resembles a creature captured in familiar posture and positioning, relaxed and comfortable within its natural and prescribed environs.

The surface of Shepherd’s work is inspired by the effect that smoke firing creates, most notably when and where smoke licks around a form and ultimately leaves a resinous variegation in its wake. These marks coalesce into a dramatic and naturally derived canvas, tracing a permanent record of the fire. The perspex in the mount allows the work to further defy gravity, imbuing the forms with life affirming energy that seek to project Shepherd’s signature animalistic forms in an almost real light and candour.

To date, Shepherd has been invited to fulfil a growing number of commissions, chief amongst which was her brief to originate and produce a series of life-sized bronze figures for the bank, Morgan Stanley. Shepherd’s work is held in private collections across the globe and has been shown in many mixed exhibitions at venues including the Royal Academy. What’s more, her sculptures were recently selected for display at the British Embassy in India.