Badgers for Chesterfield

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Pictured above: Work in progress

Inspired by geology and light, Sheffield-based sculptor Coralie Turpin has created a number of public artworks across the UK. Here, she tells us about one of her latest exterior projects – a badger-themed, mosaicked sculpture for a new council housing scheme in Chesterfield. 


Who organised the project and how did you go about securing it?

The sculpture was commissioned by Chesterfield Council. I got the brief for the job during lockdown when all my jobs were either on hold or cancelled. So I was worked on the design without knowing what lay ahead in the Covid-19 pandemic, but I was very keen to get it. The brief was to create something on a badger’s theme. I decided to design a 3.4-metre tall sculpture that looked like balancing stones, with scenes of badgers underground and above as well as a silver birch tree with swifts flying around it. The back of the sculpture would feature an abstract design echoing the rock shapes. After I applied for the project, it was shortlisted to two artists. Luckily mine was the one that was chosen from the two.

Did you encounter any challenges during the project and how did you overcome them?

Yes. The contractor who was instructed to commission me as part of their contract went bust before the sculpture was even started but luckily Henry Boot Ltd took up the challenge to complete the housing development and commissioned the piece. I also realised by summer 2021 that the mosaic was going to be late if I didn’t get some help. I quickly employed mosaicist Jenny Watson and, in the summer holidays, my daughter Babette and her friend Ruby Mirza, as well as my younger daughter Liesl and her friend Fredy, also helped. Babette and Ruby are going to art college in September, so it was great to give them some work experience. 

What advice would you give to any artists looking to move into large-scale sculptural projects?

Be ambitious and keep pushing yourself. Discover what you’re interested in and don’t mimic others. Keep moving forward with a positive attitude. Build your portfolio with any work you can get and continue selecting out, keeping only your best work in it; the ones you really love. This will set you forward in the right direction for you and only you. My work has got bigger gradually – my largest sculpture so far is five metres tall. Another one I’m working on is six metres high! 

Coralie’s husband Jason Watson, Jenny Watson and Coralie Turpin

Coralie Turpin is also currently working on projects for Fusion Student Accommodation and Great Places Housing Association.