Hannah Stewart

Self-employed sculptor

I studied A levels in Art, English Literature and Photography from 1992-1994. was quite frustrated at Collyer’s as I was always desperate to make sculptures and there was no opportunity to do so. However, I did have the chance to paint a large mural on one of the walls and loved this experience.

After Collyer’s I undertook a foundation course in conservation and restoration at DeMontford University in Lincoln for 1 year and followed that with a Graduate Diploma, Sculpture and Licentiateship (LCGI) at the City & Guilds of London Art School for 3 years.

After graduating I did a series of sculpture-related jobs including mould making, sculpting for film and television, and casting fireproof objects for contemporary fireplaces. Over the next few years, I continued to work on my own sculptures, creating work for exhibitions and open studio events alongside other work. I also entered a few sculpture competitions and was awarded some prizes.

Slowly people and organisations started to commission me to make sculptures for them and as the commissions increased, I was able to build up my website with examples of my work, which in turn generated more enquiries.

I always wanted to do something that contributed positively to society and that I loved to do. I am pleased to say that working as a sculptor does both those things. I love the new challenges that each new commission presents and am very aware of the value each sculpture has for the individual or group that commissions it. This can be celebrating an historical figure, the heritage of an area, a lost family member or pet, a heroic achievement, or a way to inspire conversations about mental health.

I work from my studio at home and spend most of my day sculpting. I often try to include some time drawing or sculpting on my own projects but mainly concentrate on whatever commission I have on at the time. Sometimes I visit the foundry to check on work that is being cast or meet up with clients to discuss potential work or to take measurements and photographs of my next subject. As I am self-employed, I can be very flexible about how I divide my time. This compliments family life very well.

I love the challenges of each new commission. No two jobs are the same and I develop further as a sculptor, deepening my knowledge and improving my skills with each sculpture.

As a sculptor alongside drawing and sculpting skills it is important for me to be able to relate and communicate well with my clients. This allows me to make sure that I fully understand their requirements during the commissioning process. I also need to be able to work well with installers, engineers, and foundry technicians, managing my time and coordinating with others.

For someone looking to get into a similar role there is no guarantee of a stable income for someone starting out in the Arts. This is a path you choose primarily because you love sculpting. It has taken me many years to turn my love of sculpting into a successful business.

The advice I would give to my younger self is find time to focus on developing your technique and a solid understanding of anatomy as early as possible.

What next Hannah? More of the same! Working jointly on commissions and my own drawing and sculpting projects.