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Dippers on the River Derwent

Two weeks ago, I was out early one morning walking my collie by the River Derwent. Everything was in order, rabbits were in the fields, blackbirds noisy and the small birds were active. The first fieldfares and redwings had arrived from Scandinavia.

Where a small brook flows into the river, I could see a dipper standing on a small stone in mid stream . Nothing unusual, except it was in a pose which to my mind totally typifies a dipper. Dippers are unusual in that they actually walk under fast flowing water searching for food.

I wondered why I had never sculpted a dipper, one of my favourite birds. I only had an old envelope and a biro with me, so I did a quick sketch before the bird flew down river. I decided I would sculpt a dipper starting that very day, but, in a way I’ve never sculpted before.

I decided I would make a small armature and start sculpting the clay immediately without any of my usual preparations of research measurements drawing templates and spontaneous feelings. The freedom from long held methods and details was a lovely feeling. I wanted the dipper to be rounded, rotund even, a bit frumpy, but, settled and peaceful in its own element.

It looks just like I envisaged I feel as though there is more of me in it than normal.

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