The Giant Animals and creatures of the Natural History Museum

Alfred Waterhouse’s magnificent Natural History Museum

Lambs Terracotta acquired the molds for a couple of these grand animals fromHathernware in around 2006.

These giant animals are made using even more massive molds, one animal body took several days to press. The mold for the head of the animals is almost the same height as the body mold. It’s interesting to see on the building the bodies of the animals are from stock molds (perhaps 3 or 4 types of stance) and the heads are much more varied.

Natural History Museum: Lioness body

Natural History Museum: Lion body

Natural History Museum: Lion's head

We pressed the lion head and body and the lionesses body. We didn’t have the mold for the lioness head, so Mark Williams who is skilled at detailed work, modeled the it from photos taken on site. We then proceeded to made the mold in many pieces following the example demonstrated by the molds in existence and we eventually pressed it.
The inside of these pieces are hollow with an arrangements of webs, like you might have on large bricks, are formed to give the piece extra strength and integrity.

Interestingly on my visit I noticed the female lion appears to be newer than the original figures. I wonder who replaced it, why and when…

The interior of the building is a visually stunning scheme of colour and decoration:

The National History Museum are well engaged in the history and embedded craft in their building and asked to film an educational piece with us about how terracotta is worked. The Terracotta section of the website has some interesting resources and look out for our video showing in detail how we made such ornamental terracotta.

Is not a light building, the size of the windows are quite small for the scale of the space. The terracotta and detailing is actually quite difficult to see.

Elly Barham, my old friend from Universiy, working with Mike Smith Studio made and installed Tania Kovats’ TREE on the ceiling of the Gallery behind the Central Hall. This laminate slice of an ancient oak tree commemorates Darwin’s 200th anniversary and represent his tree of life and for the opening night the Central Hall was, I’m told, beautifully lit and the interior architecture could be really well seen and enjoyed.

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