Stunning sculptures – from driftwood!

I’m amazed at the lifelike quality of Heather Jansch‘s sculptures, made from driftwood. Click the pictures for a larger view.

From a distance they are the embodiment of equine grace, three creatures ready to burst into a gallop across the sands.

Only on closer examination are they revealed to be sculptures made, incredibly, from driftwood.

They were created by artist Heather Jansch, whose individual works take up to three years to produce and fetch up to £55,000.

Despite its fragile appearance, each horse weighs three quarters of a ton and is free standing. ‘The structure must not only be strong enough to withstand public display, it must also be able to withstand heavy winds without falling over,’ says Miss Jansch, 60, who has a long waiting list of buyers.

‘The larger sculptures require a steel frame coated with glass fibre to give a roughened surface. I then tie the driftwood to the sculpture with wire, then nuts and screws to secure the solidity of the piece.’

Miss Jansch, who is based in the Devon hamlet of Olchard, near Newton Abbot, made the step from painting to sculpture in the 1970s. ‘One day my son could not find any kindling to light the woodburner and had chopped up a piece of ivy that had grown round a fencing stake,’ she says. ‘He had left behind a short section that I immediately saw as a horse’s torso.

‘The next question was where could I find more or similar shapes. The answer was, of course, driftwood.’

Since then Miss Jansch has created almost 100 wooden horses, along with the occasional stag. Each stands at about 17 hands, or five and a half feet.

She refuses to lower her sights to a Shetland pony, declaring: ‘They are fat and uninteresting compared with a raging stallion.’

Amazing craftsmanship! I’d love to see her work in the flesh – or wood.



  1. Your work reminds me of another artist whose work I know well. Deborah Butterfield has been famous in the United States for making horse sculptures out of found wood, steel, and other materials for over 25 years. Some of her works made from found wood have been made more durable by casting: after building them, she then disassembled them and cast each of the pieces in bronze, then reassembled them, welded them together, and applied patinas to to make them resemble the original wood. Her work has graced the lawn of the White House, for example. You might enjoy seeing her work.

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