x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Bronze camel is a statuesque tribute to the UAE

Hamish Mackie spent a week up close with camels in the UAE before creating his 3-metre long, 2-metre high bronze statue.

Wildlife sculptor Hamish Mackie works on a life-sized model of a camel. Courtesy Hamish Mackie
Wildlife sculptor Hamish Mackie works on a life-sized model of a camel. Courtesy Hamish Mackie

A week-long visit to the UAE inspired Hamish Mackie, a wildlife sculptor, to create a life-size bronze statue of the country's most famous animal.

His 3-metre long, 2-metre high Arabian camel, made out of half a tonne of bronze, took eight months to complete.

It will go on display at a gallery in London later this year, with a price tag of Dh807,500.

Mr Mackie first sought out the dromedary in the south-west of Iran, where he spent time with the Qashqai tribe.

"I didn't see a single camel as the tribe were using pickup trucks," said Mr Mackie, who has travelled as far afield as Antarctica to study animals in their natural habitat.

His trip to the UAE proved more fruitful as he spent time studying the animals on Emirati farms, at camel races and at the Camel Reproduction Centre (CPC) in Dubai.

Mr Mackie found camels highly intriguing and full of character.

"They are an easy animal to read as they have so much expression on their faces," he said.

Dr Lulu Skidmore, the CPC's scientific director, helped arrange Mr Mackie's visit in November.

"He was very enthusiastic about his work, paying great attention to detail with neither the heat nor the camels putting him off his task," she said. "I appreciate art like his, that offers a realistic depiction of life."

Mr Mackie consulted her on all aspects of camel anatomy to ensure he achieved as accurate a depiction of the animal as possible.

He took three smaller sculptures he created during his visit, along with hundreds of photos and videos of camels, back to his workshop in the UK, although he said he mostly relied on his memory while sculpting. "When I make a life-size sculpture most of the information is already in my head, enabling me to sculpt without continuous interruption referring to external information," he explained.

He said his love of animals began as a child living on a farm in Cornwall, England. He has not ruled out a return to the UAE in the future.

"I would love to be able to work on other animals native to the UAE such the falcon, oryx or Arabian leopard," he said.

About 50 of Mr Mackie's sculptures will be on display in his solo exhibition at The Gallery in Cork Street, London, from October 7, including his camel.

"As it is the largest sculpture I have ever made I might have some trouble fitting it through the door," he said.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae