Women in Sculpture and Stories in Bronze with Hazel Reeves

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Hazel Reeves is a brilliantly talented sculptress who tells stories in bronze.

In recent years she has secured several prestigious commissions among them the Sir Nigel Gresley sculpture in Kings Cross, London commemorating the engineer and innovator of steam trains, and the Cracker Packer statue dedicated to the women who have worked in the Carrs biscuit factory, now McVitie’s in Carlisle, for over a hundred years.

I’ve been keen to talk to Hazel ever since I was involved in doing some preventive conservation work on her incredible sculpture of Emmeline Pankhurst, Our Emmeline, in the centre of Manchester. Today we discuss her creative journey and why she loves telling stories in bronze. Join us for this lively chat and to look at examples of Hazel's work and read the transcription of the interview, go to www.sculpturevulture.co.uk/hazelreeves/

Sample of Interview (Transcription)

Lucy: Today, I thought I’d kick off our chat by asking when she first felt drawn to creating sculpture?

Hazel: Well, I think you have to go back to when I was younger and I was desperate to go to art school and my parents said, ‘No!’ And so, I sort of forgot about that artistic career for many years. Then I was in the Dominican Republic working with the UN on women's rights and I suddenly got back in touch with all the things I was passionate about: music, drumming, dancing, arts. When I came home, it just came to me that I was going to be a portrait sculptor, which was quite bizarre because I'd never actually done any sculpting nor any portraits, but it's the only time in my life I've actually suddenly realized I had a calling.

Lucy: Did your parents have nothing to do with the arts? Was it very alien to them? Is that why they discouraged it or was it that it wasn't a proper job?

Hazel: Oh, all of the above. According to my mum, art is a luxury and you only did arts if you couldn't do anything else. My eldest sister was already at art school and I think they were also worried about having two penniless artists in the family. So it was like, "No, you're more academic. You could go off and go to college." And so it was many years later that actually I rediscovered that this is what I should always have been doing. This is my journey and I wouldn't be the sculptor I am now if I hadn't been on that journey.

Lucy: So it definitely was something that came to...you'd had to sort of squash it down for quite a long time. I wonder what it was about the Dominican Republic that brought it all to the forefront of your mind. Is it the environment there? Is it a creative place?

Hazel: It's a very creative place. I really got into the Afro-Dominican folkloric scene there. That's very much about their music and the dance but it was also a very vibrant place, a very creative place, a very musical place. Also, you're completely out of your normal environment. Making that transition from the UK to that sort of country, where there is deep poverty in some places, but also working with the UN was a tremendous experience. It was particularly the nightlife and the nights out dancing that just really sort of shook my whole system up. It was like, ah, yeah, I'm actually not somebody to be sitting at a desk.

Get your free novel from https://sculpturevulture.co.uk/a-rarer-gift-than-gold/ where sculpture is always at the heart of the story.

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