Figurative Sculpture for the Hannah Bennett Sculpture Garden

Working as a sculptor can bring days which are full of creative exciting processes, other days when it’s harder to get the final details right, and then the days when you take a work of art you’ve spend hours dreaming up, creating and perfecting - to display at a fantastic location!

A few weeks back I had one such day!

Loading my car with this beautiful sculpture of ‘Sophie’, we took her to the area of outstanding natural beauty - Hope Valley, in Derbyshire. The sculpture was to be sited in the amazing location that is the ‘Hannah Bennett Sculpture Garden’

It always feels a little bit like waving off a child on their first day of school, when you take a sculpture and see it reach its full potential in a sculpture garden!

And how gorgeous she looks, I’m so pleased with her!

Stoneware Figurative Sculpture

I am often asked how long it takes to create a sculpture like this, and it’s a hard question to answer.

The first stage is building an armature – the structure on which the clay is built up on. Then I begin modelling in clay -  I use a strong textured clay (Craft Crank) to help me sculpt the forms. The human form is all about proportions and although I have been working figuratively for many years, so much of my work is instinctive. I like to try to capture the essence of a pose and to show the vitality and energy within the human form.

Sculpting process

This is when the sculpture really begins to come alive. As a sculptor when I create a figurative work, I want it to represent the female form as it is, a natural representation, rather than a highly polished, ‘photoshopped’ version of reality. It can still take weeks to get a sculpture looking how I want it too!

Then I hollow out the sculpture and allow it to dry for at least 6-8 weeks. This stage is followed by the first bisc firing.

Bisc fire

Once the initial firing is complete it’s then time to decide on a glaze, or ‘finish’. There are so many options available, but for Sophie, I wanted a natural surface to enhance the texture and forms of the figure. She had a second firing - to Stoneware - which means she can be sited in exterior and interior spaces.

Figurative Female Sculpture

Citing a sculpture in a garden is such a pleasure.

The outdoor setting provides a wonderful backdrop for a figurative sculpture. As the light moves around the garden through the day, the different light displays a variety of elements, and as the colours on the trees around her change with the different seasons….it provides natural gallery in which for her to sit. The plinth, made using hardwood has metal rods attached which extend under the turf…this helps stabilize the sculpture. The plinth is also an important part of the sculpture and is available to buy.

Hannah Bennett Sculpture Garden


I was drawn to the garden of Hannah Bennet as I have admired her work for many years. She writes this on her website about her wonderful garden.

‘My aim is to curate an intimate collection of the works of people who I consider to be some of the best sculptors from around the UK. Some are better known than others but all of them deserve to be in the garden, every individual piece has a story, and it is a privilege to put their work here in my garden as part of a wider collection.’ Hannah Bennett

The sculpture garden is open from May to October on Thursday and Friday from 10am until 3pm, and on Saturday from 11 am till 5pm and at other times by appointment only,

Do go and have a wander around what truly is a lovely space, and say hi to Sophie for me while you’re there!

Sophie” is for sale and is available to buy for £3500, (including the plinth)

Susie Hartley