Title:- Celtic Princess Tara
Clay Body:- Bone china
Sculptor:- Peter Holland
Where To Buy:- This figurine has sold out and is only available second hand
This was the piece which made my career go into the 'big time'. It cemented my artistic reputation and made me respected and sought after in the industry.
years before I became a professional ceramic sculptor (for the UK bone
china figurine industry) I had an infatuation for the beautiful and
mysterious look of the ladies depicted in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
The Brotherhood's influences went deep into the mystical past. Celtic princesses from pre-history, fem-fatales, depicted in superb costume detail.
I has an urge to do a series of figurines in that smouldering mould. I had to bide my time though before anyone would listen. Meantime, I did a huge bronze of a brooding Celtic girl face to the sky, looking glorious in her contemplation to the sky.
There was only one of these bronzes ever made and it acts as a door prop
in my sisters house. I gave it to her when she confessed her love of
I did this piece for my own enjoyment, not being professional at the time, and not having any contacts to give me commissions.
What I did with it though, was to photograph it nicely and put it into a portfolio of my work - a good thing to build for all wannabe sculptors looking for a gig.
It was this portfolio which got me the gig, in fact. Eventually, the UK figurine product development team for bone china makers Coalport (part of the Wedgwood group) saw enough of what they liked to make me a very good offer of employment.
A few year on and a respected pro by this time, Compton & Woodhouse (a powerhouse of a design and marketing company with regard to figurines) were looking to take on a young buck to work side by side with venerable sculptor John Bromley.
His workload was getting huger and huger all the time, and they wanted someone they thought could be as good as him one day to take some of the work. I wasn't the finished article at that time (mid 1990's), but they must have thought I had potential to be top dog one day.
Whilst they were talking to me, persuading me to leave Coalport for their richer pickings, I mentioned my infatuation with Celtic and pre-Raphaelite work.
Lo & behold, after doing my first few pieces for them - to their own designs, what should come along, but a commission for the first of the Royal Worcester Celtic Princess pieces.
This piece turned out to be Celtic Princess Tara (Celtic no. 1).
Wow! Celtic Princess Tara became a success - one of the most acclaimed and commercially successful pieces for Worcester and Compton & Woodhouse in recent times. There are 8 (or 9) nine in the series and counting (I don't make them through Royal Worcester or Compton any more as they insist on making abroad, whereas I want my pieces to be English bone china).
Now I would like to tell you Celtic Princess Tara was an easy piece to design, but it wasn't at all.
The design team were struggling to come up with ideas and I had only vague notions. All I knew was that whatever rules there were for figurines at that time, I wanted to break all of them.
For example, long skirts had to have 'movement' and be blowing in the wind. A lady never looked straight down as that made her look too thoughtful and sad. You could never have a person holding a lock of their hair because......... well because production could not make it that way - too technically difficult!
So, you see, I broke all the rules of figurines with this one and had a commercial success on my hands. Maybe I was going to be someone in the industry after all.