Harpy Eagle Skull
Sweet Chestnut Burr on granite
Hand carved wood original
12 cm in length
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About the Sculpture
The harpy eagle skull is carved from a single piece of sweet chestnut burr that I collected from a fallen tree in Norfolk many years ago. Because of the unique and decorative qualities of the grain, I always take care to only use this special timber for the subjects that I feel will will make best use of these features. In order to make a distinction of textural qualities between the beak area and the bone of the skull, I decided to apply a high shine to the beak (to contrast with the more satin finish of the bone sections) with some labour intensive French polishing. The skull is mounted on a piece of black granite.
Skulls conjure up something of a dichotomy of emotions within me. They are a very powerful symbol of death, extinction and the fragility of life (or of a species), yet at the same time, a skull can make a very beautiful, sculptural form – ‘hewn’ over millennia by the forces of evolution. This particular piece is based on the skull of a harpy eagle (kindly loaned to me by top taxidermist, Carl Church). I chose the harpy as I have always admired this bird of prey. It is probably one of the most powerful flying predators on the planet, with its enormous beak and huge, powerful talons (that in size rival the claws of a grizzly bear).