The Queens Beasts
As created by Tom Hiscocks
The story of their creation:
When I visited the beasts in Kew Gardens, I had a strong sense that their spirits were compromised by the way they were represented. They said: ‘we’re stuck in poses that were for a particularly formal occasion 60 years ago. We have evolved. Can you help?’
Their entrapment struck a chord with my own personal feeling of having allowed my own identity to be dictated by the expectations of others, rather than expressing the essence of me. It is due to this, that identity and representation have been the focus of much of my work over recent years.
Being encased in bodies of stone seemed to be more a response to a human need for permanence of representation than a true reflection of the character of the beasts. This in turn, perpetuates the myth of their rigidity & solemnity.
Artwork can recount a particular version of events, which, over time – and because of its permanence, becomes enshrined as ‘truth’. Identity on the other hand is both dynamic and multilayered. It can be expressed with social context and rich diversity.
So I thought I would see if I could give The Beasts a contemporary expression. They wanted ‘flash’ and ‘bling’ and movement reflecting the current world they are part of. ‘Recycled’ provides flash, bling and movement with minimum depletion of resource.
I went round scrap yards and found things that were formerly shiny; formally desirable now just commoditised into raw metal value. Things that had had so much added value, now found out!
I like the idea that these things can play their part within a new form of identity and expression. The Queens Beasts live on.
Various images of the beasts in their new representation:
From this, children’s author Sophie Bristow and illustrator Sophie Glover have created a wonderful book for children of all ages:
Lizzie lives in the park keeper’s cottage in Kew Gardens. When the gates close, she goes exploring.
She finds something magical is happening. After sixty years trapped in stone, five of the Queen’s Beasts have been freed!
Can Lizzie help the other Beasts
escape too? And what will
happen if she does?
To buy your copy for £9.99 with free P&P