Heather Jansch’s Driftwood Horses

Craft & Design
Heather Jansch’s Driftwood Horses

CRAFT: Crafting with Nature
There’s a great moment in the documentary on Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides, when describing his process, Goldsworthy says, “When I make a work I often take it to the very edge of its collapse and that’s a very beautiful balance.”
Looking at Heather Jansch’s driftwood horse sculptures reminds me of that delicate balance, as each of her pieces appear to be precariously challenging gravity, while at the same time deeply rooted in its base.
Apollol_on_beach_ 2_copy.jpg
Jansch, 60, who lives and works in Devon, England, has been a sculptor for close to 40 years, and creates beautiful life-sized sculptures of horses and other animals out of driftwood found on beaches. With each branch and trunk of wood visibly twisting and flowing to become the bones, tendons, and muscles of the animal, her works can seem fragile as one wonders how they are held together (she uses different techniques for each statue). Yet, even without seeing the screws, wire, or metal structures that hold each piece together, the statues are incredibly lifelike and just as sturdy and solid as the real animals they so marvelously represent.
Check out more of Jansch’s amazing sculptures on her site: heatherjansch.com
—Chris Tackett
About the Author:
Chris Tackett is a fan of the internet and self-described news junkie. Chris brain dumps on Twitter (http://twitter.com/christackett), enjoys biking and making art, and currently works as a social-media marketer and writer for TreeHugger.com and PlanetGreen.com, all while living in San Francisco.

10 thoughts on “Heather Jansch’s Driftwood Horses

  1. Carolyn Dew says:

    Might be worthwhile to note that sculptor Deborah Butterfield began making horses from bronze castings of driftwood (and other found objects) since the 1980s, and is, in my opinion, the better artist.
    At best, Jansch’s sculptures are ‘inspired’ by Butterfield’s work. At worst, they’re a rip off.

  2. chris tackett says:

    Thanks for the tip about Ms. Butterfield. I was unaware of her work. I did note that Jansch has been sculpting since the 70s. However, having not known about Butterfield I won’t elevate myself to be the judge of who was inspired by whom, but I’m hopeful there’s enough lovers of these artworks for both of these great artists to be successful.

  3. Zen Moments says:

    There is no doubt that these 2 artists – on different continents, well before the days of the w.w.web – separately and independently came up with the idea of creating horses from driftwood.
    Similar subject and materials – very different styles!
    Read the interesting story of how the idea came to Heather Jansch, on Zen Moments – or have a look at Heather’s own website: http://www.heatherjansch.com

  4. ArtyNess says:

    The 2 artists’ work is SO different:
    – Jansch’s horses are full of life and movement – the art critic, Richard Marcus wrote: “Posed in mid-motion, Jansch so successfully captured the kinetic energy of the animal- you’re in constant anticipation of their next move”
    – Butterfield’s horses are very still, almost abstract – she says: “My work is not so overtly about movement. My horses’ gestures are really quite quiet, because real horses move so much better than I could pretend to make things move.” Deborah Butterfield
    The idea of creating horses from driftwood is unusual – but would you assume that a landscape artist MUST have copied some other landscape artist?

  5. ArtyNess says:

    If you ever get the chance, go and see the originals – they have an amazing life and presence.
    Heather Jansch’s studio and sculpture gardens are open to visitors for a few days each year. Details on her website.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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