LONDON.- In June 2010 the artist was awarded a commission by Historic Royal Palaces to fabricate thirteen sculptures as part of an exhibition exploring the history of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London. Made from her trade-mark material, galvanised wire, life-size lions, baboons, a polar bear and an elephant, will help tell the story of the exotic animals that were a popular tourist attraction at the Tower from the 1100s. In 1831-2 the remaining animals from the Menagerie were moved to Regents Park to help establish London Zoo. The commission will include one of the most famous Tower 'inmates', a polar bear (a gift from the King of Norway in 1251) whose collar and chain allowed it to fish for food in the Thames without escaping.
Accompanied by multi-media, the exhibition entitled 'Royal Beasts' will be the first of its kind devoted to the Royal Menagerie. It is scheduled to open at the Tower of London, a World Heritage Site, in May 2011.
In her artist's statement, Kendra Haste says, "Animals have held an obsessive fascination for me throughout my life. Their diverse form, nature and behaviour provide a rich and inexhaustible depth of subject. Animals have been for many years and continue to be the sole focus of my work as a sculptor."
"The apparent ordinariness of wire and wire mesh belie their expressive qualities and provide ideal material for my sculptures. Drawing is integral to my work as an artist and is perfectly matched by the linear qualities of wire. No other material I have ever used has been able to suggest the sense of movement and life, of contour and volume, the contrasts of weight and lightness, of solidity and transparency - qualities that I find in my natural subjects. It is the perfect medium, inviting continuing exploration and challenge."
"I have been privileged to study many of my subjects in the wild; amazing expeditions, whether tracking tigers in India, or following wildebeest migrations through Tanzania. Direct and intimate study of animals is essential. I spend much time in zoos drawing the phenomena of anatomy and musculature, however, such analysis does not overwhelm my work for it is the spirit and energy of the animal that I fundamentally seek to convey. My sculptures are depictions of individual animals I have encountered, those I have spent time observing or who have left a deep impression on me. These are unique portraits, rather than stereotypical, generalized interpretations of a species."
"I was brought up in London, a childhood with few animals and little experience of wild places or even the countryside. Mine was very much an urban experience, separate from the natural world. My attraction to wild animals was born of the desire to connect with and discover something in their nature which has long ago been lost within ourselves. These pre-occupations became obsessive and led me to study, in particular, the larger mammals and of course primates with whom we share so much - flesh, blood and muscle as well as traits of behaviour. But it is to other quite unique aspects; the sense of another 'being', an individual spirit, inherent in each animal that is the true subject for my work."