Ivor Allchurch sculpture at Liberty Stadium, Swansea

Michael's life-size bronze sculpture of Welsh football lengend Ivor Allchurch, unveiled at Swansea Stadium on Saturday 15th October 2005. The sculpture was commissioned by the Swansea City Supporters Trust, and constructed in the main with donations from fans of football in Swansea, they also received donations from Swansea City Football Club, the City and County of Swansea Council as well as the Football Association of Wales. Speeches were made by Trust Chairman Ron Knuszka, FAW Vice-President Peter Rees and Esme Allchurch, and a short service was read by Club Chaplin Kevin Johns.

Making of the Ivor Allchurch sculpture

I was commissioned by the Swansea City Supporters trust to make a life size bronze of Ivor Allchurch in April 2005. For my reference, photographs were supplied by Esme Allchurch (Ivor's widow) and my main remit was to base the sculpture on photographs of Ivor from the 1952 season for Swansea Town Football Club. My work started with making a head and shoulders maquette in clay and then completing the full size six-foot sculpture by the end of July 2005. The sculpture was then delivered to the renowned Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham, who made a cast in wax which was later used to produce the final bronze sculpture, delivered to the Swansea Stadium at the start of October 2005. The bronze was unveiled on 15th October 2005.

Ivor Allchurch (16th October 1929-9th July 1997) was the 'Golden boy' of Welsh football. In a career playing for Swansea Town, Newcastle United and Cardiff City, Ivor played 694 League games and scored 251 goals. For the Swans he made 445 appearances and scored 164 League goals and earned 68 International Caps with 23 goals for Wales. Perhaps more importantly he set standards of sportsmanship and professionalism throughout his career, remaining loyal to his family and always proud of his roots in Swansea. Of particular help making the sculpture were two books, the 1998 biography of 'Ivor Allchurch MBE' by David Farmer and Peter Stead, and the Images of Wales 'Swansea Town Football Club 1912-1964' (1998), compiled by Richard Shepherd.

Alec Stock Life-Size Bronze bust

This was a commission of a life-size bust as a tribute to Alec Stock (from 1949-1981 the Player-Manager to Yeovil, Fulham, QPR and Luton Football Clubs) which was produced in 2002/2003. The bust was originally made using synthetic clay and then cast in bronze by the Morris Singer Foundry (Lasham). Of particular use as reference was the Stock Autobiography called 'A little thing called pride' by Alec Stock and Brian Woolnaugh (Pelham Books, 1982). The tribute was intended to be unveiled at the Yeovil Football club - who had commissioned the bust in conjunction with the Stock family - though an official unveiling never came to pass, and it is not known whether the Bust ended up at Yeovil or at a private collection.

 Golf Sculptures

As long as I've played and watched golf I've been interested in the technique of the golf swing and my golf sculptures are largely a result of that interest. The figurines shown on the gallery are normally free-standing - which prove whether I've managed to get the balance points right on the sculptures! Most of these sculptures are between 12 and 15 inches tall from the feet to the head. The golf the clubs normally made using a metal kitchen skewer, with the clubhead formed out of synthetic clay around the loop of the skewer!

I generally use synthetic clay for these sculptures, which hardens on contact with air, so there is normally no need for a metal understructure: the sculpture itself has enough strength as soon as it is hardened (either by exposure to air or by firing the sculpture quickly in the oven). Although it takes the sculptures away from standard 'fine art' works, painting the sculptures after making the clay models is part of the fun. The different clothing, logos and facial expression add to the colour and personality of the figures (I use acrylic-based paints on the sculptures). Some of my golf figurine sculptures have been used by Thomas & Peters to make limited edition casts, normally finished with a patina. The sculptures in my gallery section are original clay versions and not cast versions.

Bobby Moore Sculpture

I reached the finals of the Bobby Moore Sculpture Wembley Commission in conjunction with Thomas & Peters in 2006. This commission was eventually won by the sculptor Philip Jackson. Although my preparatory work was mostly limited to sketches, I have included these in the 'Other Sculptures' pages.

Ray Gravell Sculpture

The Rugby Legend Ray Gravell is to be honoured with a sculpture at the new Llanelli Stadium ground at Parc Y Scarlets. The Commission was advertised in 2008 and I created two maquettes and a head study as part of my preparatory work. The Commission was eventually won by sculptor David Williams-Ellis. Although I was disappointed at not getting to the final stage, David Williams-Ellis is a first-class sculptor and I am looking forward to seeing his sculpture which will be unveiled early in 2009. I have included photographs of my studies under the 'Other Sculptures' pages.

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