Heather Jansch

SCULPTOR & PAINTER
Discover Her Work
artist-profile

Artist Profile

Heather Jansch (1948 – 2021), was a renowned British sculptor whose lifelong passion was to achieve mastery of the equine form.

“Heather is a genius with an eye for nature that in another generation would have seen her burnt as a witch; now she is rightly considered one of our country’s finest artists. If you were to ask the visitors to Eden, ‘What is your favourite work here?’ it would be the horse, and we gave the entrance to our kingdom to this horse. Richard III, see it and weep.”

Tim Smit, KBE.,
Founder of the Eden Project, UK

Her pioneering use of driftwood as a medium was frequently copied, but rarely rivalled.

Jansch spent many years perfecting the complex translation of her original driftwood works into bronze, establishing a technique that often made them indistinguishable from the original.

Her work is held in collections across the world.

 

sculpture

Sculpture

painting-drawing

Painting & Drawing

biography

Biography

Discovering Figurative Art

Heather Jansch was a sculptor who specialised in equine figures in driftwood and bronze. She died in July 2021 at the age of 72.

From an early age she was inspired by the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and her lifelong passion for horses ran parallel; her childhood sketchbooks were crammed with studies of ponies. She studied fine art at Walthamstow Technical College and at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Born Heather Sewell, she married the renowned folk musician, Bert Jansch, in 1968 and they moved to a remote hill farm in Wales where Heather bred Welsh Cobs. During this period, which she described as her apprenticeship, Heather developed a profound understanding of equine behaviour and anatomy. She also became skilled at understanding the minute differences between closely related breeds. Her command and accuracy were fast noted by breeders, with whom her early traditional equine portraits in oils became much in demand.

A Change of Style

After ten years in Wales (having separated from Bert in 1974), Heather settled in South Devon in 1981 and a new style emerged in her painting, with vibrant colours and increasingly impressionistic canvases. She felt a restless drive to push her art in a new direction. Experimenting and expanding her subject matter, she began working in three dimensions, firstly in copper wire and plaster. But she often felt frustrated that her early sculptures lacked power, vitality, and the life force she could see in her equine subjects.

The breakthrough came when she began working in driftwood, abundant on the beaches of Devon. Driftwood was the key that unlocked her creativity and marked the beginning of a huge artistic output.

The Eden Horse

Heather was chosen to be represented in the Salisbury-based ‘The Shape of the Century’ exhibition in 1999, and the show transferred to London Docklands as part of the Millennium celebrations in 2000. As a consequence, Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project, invited her to become its artist-in-residence. Her first pieces created within the Biomes there included cork pigs and storks. Then she created the life-size driftwood horse that became known as the Eden Horse. Its new scale and ambition took her work to another level and brought recognition from a wider international audience.

The limited durability of driftwood when kept outside (the natural environment for life-size sculpture), was becoming an issue. Heather collaborated over several years with skilled mould-makers at a fine art foundry, at last finding a seminal new method of casting highly complex forms in bronze. The resulting casts brought a new permanence and gravitas to the work.

Creating The Perfect Environment

In later years Heather also sculpted powerful horse heads and a series of dancers and ‘warrior women’ assembled from wood, copper and objets trouvés.

A move to a converted coach house near Exeter with 14 acres of woodland and water meadows provided an ideal setting for her work. She regularly opened her gardens as part of Devon Open Studios and the National Garden Scheme, where thousands of people viewed her sculpture over the years.

Heather exhibited frequently in the UK and internationally. Her work is held in private collections throughout the world.

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Exhibitions

Current Exhibitions

Heather’s work can be found in private collections throughout the world, and can currently be seen on public display at:

Lympstone Manor, Exeter, Devon, UK
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Diehl Gallery, Jackson, Wyoming, USA
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Historic Exhibitions

  • 2017 Solo Show, Gallery 161, London
  • 2016 Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorset 
  • 2016 Lemon Street Gallery, Truro
  • 2016 Sculpture Garden, Withiel, Cornwall
  • 2016 Canwood Gallery, Hereford
  • 2016 Diehl Gallery, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • 2015 Celebrating Art in the Garden, West Lavington, Wiltshire
  • 2015 Out Of Nature, Newport House, Almeley, Hereford
  • 2013 Mosaiculture Botanical Gardens, Montreal, Canada
  • 2013 Art for Interiors, Number Twelve East Street
  • 2012 The Darley Stud, Stallion Parade, Newmarket
  • 2011 Devon Open Studio and Open gardens for the NGS
  • 2010 TAMED. The SPANISH BARN, Torre Abbey, Devon with Damien Hirst and Richard Long
  • 2009 Goodwood racecourse
  • 2008 Love London Recycled, London Zoo  
  • 2007 Artist in residence solo installation Arte Sella Borgo Valsugana. Italy
  • 2006 Artist in residence Arte Sella, Italy
  • 2005 Newby Hall, Yorkshire
  • 2004 London Contemporary Arts Fair.
  • 2004 Paris, Jardin du Luxembourg
  • 2003 Artist in Residence The Eden Project
  • 2003 London Contemporary Arts Fair
  • 2002 Dartington Cider Press October/November bronzes
  • 2002 Solo show Courcoux and Courcoux, Stockbridge
  • 2002 The Foal Yard
  • 2002 In Praise of Trees. Salisbury Cathedral.
  • 2002 Art Parks International Sausmarez Manor, Guernsey
  • 2002 London Contemporary Arts Fair
  • 2001 Artist in residence Eden Project
  • 2001 Solo show Dartington Cider Press. Bronzes 
  • 2001 Solo exhibition Saltram House NT, Plymouth 
  • 2000 Sculpture in the Gardens Cotehele NT, Cornwall
  • 2000 Solo show Courcoux and Courcoux Stockbridge
  • 2000 Shape of The Century-100 years of Sculpture in Britain. Canary Wharf London.
  • 1999 Artist in Residence Newbury Spring Festival
  • 1998 Artist in Residence Appledore Arts Fair
  • 1998 Solo show Saltram House NT, Plymouth
  • 1998 Solo show Courcoux and Courcoux, Stockbridge
  • 1995 London Contemporary Arts Fair
  • 1993 Solo show Seymour Gallery, Totnes
  • 1991 Solo show Dartington
  • 1990 Solo show Theatre Mwldan, Cardigan
  • 1989 Solo show Courcoux and Courcoux Salisbury
  • 1989 Bath Arts Fair
  • 1989 London Contemporary Arts Fair
  • 1987 Solo show Devon Guild of Craftsmen
  • 1984 Solo show The Plough Theatre Torrington
press

Press

Devon Open Studios

2020

“New award to commemorate renowned sculptor Heather Jansch. A new award will commemorate Devon artist Heather Jansch who died in July. …”

My Modern Met

2020

“Every work is impressive, whether featuring dynamic movement or the subject in repose. The proportions are very similar to their real-life counterparts. The texture and form of the driftwood only adds another level to the pieces. Incredible! …”

Lyme Online

2020

“What an eye this lady has; every contour of a real horse is right there…”

Horse & Hound

2018

“Heather is world famous for her sculptures of horses made from driftwood…”

Jackson Hole News & Guide

2018

“Heather Jansch’s miniature sculptures of elephants inspired Mariam Diehl to have all of Diehl Gallery’s summer programming benefit the Elephant Crisis Fund…”

It's Nice That

2009

“I’m always in awe of people who can draw horses. So, imagine my reverence when when I was shown Heather Jansch’s incredible body of work. A woman who can obviously not only draw beautifully, but also make life-size equine sculptures with an enviable precision and confidence…”

Design Boom

2008

“UK artist Heather Jansch creates life size sculptures of various animals…”

The Daily Mail

2008

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

Web Urbanist

2008

“The magnificent figures are so lifelike and full of energy that they seem likely to spring into movement at any moment…”

Woman's Hour

2006

“Heather Jansch can frequently be seen walking along the beach, eyes peeled for the bits and pieces of wood that come in on the tide. Woman’s Hour joined Heather in South Devon to find driftwood material for her latest sculpture…”

ENQUIRIES

Please contact us to discuss purchasing existing work or commissioning bronze editions. Work may be seen in person at our archive in Farnborough, UK, by appointment.