Artist reaches new heights

Unathi Jongihlathi

INTERNATIONAL artist Tom Bateman has built a 4.5-metre high giraffe named Grace out of Port Jackson branches which he cut down to prevent fires behind his property.

Bateman is a figurative and portrait artist who spends six months in South Africa and six months in England each year painting and exhibiting his work. He says the giraffe is a female as it is 4.5m high, while “male giraffes grow to 5.5m”.

On building Grace, Bateman said: “I created her like a box ship with four legs, using stronger branches. I took smaller and more flexible wood and wrapped it around the box to create the shape of the body. I did the same to cover the legs to give them shape.

“Because giraffes are tall, I made the body and legs with one piece and another piece was the neck and another was the head. When complete, I put them together.”

He used 1300 screws for the sculpture.

“Rather than just destroy the wood which is a fire hazard, I put it back in the area where I took the wood from. I chop the trees down, use them and put them back in position again.”

It took him two weeks to create the giraffe.

He built the giraffe on the land adjacent to the Kingston Mews South complex, which is part of the Guinea Fowl Trail, at the back of his Glenroy Park home.

Bateman creates the sculptures just for the viewing pleasure of the residents of the area.

Last year, he built a life-sized 2m-high horse named Ned out of the same Port Jackson branches. He used 700 screws. He plans a rhino next.

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