Weird and Wonderful Clay Creations
Original Sculptural Ceramics
Handmade in Lincolnshire. England
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In June 2011, I contacted the son Mr. John Nuttall and told him I wanted to do something in recognition for the years of service provided to the seaside town by his family. I told John on the phone who I was and that I had an idea and wanted to create a life-size statue of Dudley the Donkey and that it would be a great surprise for his Mum and Dad. To my delight, his response was of shock and joy, he was overwhelmed at the thought.
I just knew I could do it so I just got on with it. I began making it in my back garden under a gazebo. It was going to be a big surprise for his Mum Gladys so John and I kept it secret between us. Over the next few weeks, I spent many happy hours with the donkeys in the field, researching and measuring for the final design. My sister Jane accompanied me to photograph the donkeys, we made sure we took plenty of carrots as treats for the posing animals. I made sketches and took wet clay to make a small model for research on the stances before embarking on the life size figure. My partner, Jim and brother Malcolm, together welded the rebar armature at their workshop. We brought the welded skeleton home and I began fixing the wire and creating the overall shape. But it was less than 6 weeks later when John contacted me to say his Mum Gladys was poorly.
A Special Thank you
It was one of the best days of my professional career. To create an opportunity and see it become a reality has been a privilege for me. It presented me with the challenge of using my skills as a sculptor and portrait artist, to fulfil a desire to create a life-size sculpture of a donkey, in order to acknowledge the contribution the donkeys and the Nuttall family have made over the years to Cleethorpes.
Dudley the Donkey is the culmination of many weeks of preparatory study, and a few months of making and I believe and hope you will all agree, that I have captured the quiet, calm gentility that epitomizes the character of a donkey and that Dudley is a testament to those qualities.
I have developed a fondness for him, it will certainly be difficult for a while, for me to resist the temptation to pop down there, stroke him and check whether he's happy in his new home.
I'm confident that it won't be too long before he has a multitude of new friends and admirers both young and old. All I ask is just look after him please.
There are a few people who I owe grateful thanks to and they are of course:-
My family and friends who are always supportive when I get these crazy ideas.
My partner Jim and brother Malcolm for welding the skeleton framework.
Thank you Dave and Jane for the encouragement and endless hours of photography throughout the whole process.
My sister Anna and Ian for bringing our 90 year old dear (Dad shown on the right)
Update - Dad sadly passed away in February 2019 age 98.
Thank you also to my friends Sylvia and Pete, and of course my sons Oliver and Spencer just because! x
I created my own opportunity...How it came about
It was perhaps no coincidence that treasured childhood memories of the donkey rides
on the beach had triggered my thoughts that led me to find the solution to fulfil a creative desire to make a large piece of sculpture.
I wanted to do my bit in helping to make a tourist attraction for Cleethorpes. My next large scale piece had to be something of significance, something to do with the seaside. After little thought it soon became so obvious and no one had thought of doing it before. A Donkey! of course! but why a Donkey? Well...No seaside resort is complete without Traditional Donkey rides!
Gladys Nuttall had once been the Mayor back in 1988 but she and her family was most famous for the donkeys at Cleethorpes. I researched and found Gladys and her husband Buster were the first to bring donkey rides to Cleethorpes beach. For Donkeys years, (pun intended) ( actually since before the first world war 1940's ) the Nuttall family, have given hundreds of children hours of pleasure, their faces beaming with delight as they hung on to the reigns. It saddened me to think that the Nuttalls who were so renowned for their donkey rides and yet no permanent acknowledgement to them has been made in the resort....so it was easy,I would create a life size donkey in the hope it could be proudly on display somewhere along the seaside in Cleethorpes.
Sadly Gladys Nuttall died at 2.pm on the 3rd August 2011 age 85.
Entirely hand crafted, the sculpture is now complete. It has been a wonderful experience and an absolute pleasure to create. My sincere hope is, that once installed, my donkey statue will be respected and appreciated by both locals and visitors to the resort, bringing happy memories and joy to many hearts.
I’m so pleased I made the donkey, it fulfilled my desire to create large scale and made me proud as it now serves as a tribute to the late Gladys Nuttall for bringing Donkey rides to East Coast beaches since the 1940’s.