Palaeoartistry: Sculpting at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History


I recently participated in an event called iPLAY at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. This event was created to celebrate the combination of science and technology with art. As a demonstrator I showed my techniques for sculpting prehistoric animals using animal anatomy and science as tools to recreate an extinct animal.

For this demonstration I sculpted Megaloceros, also known as the Irish Elk. This prehistoric elk had an antler span of about 12 feet, and was over 6 feet tall. Here is an illustration by another palaeoartist, Charles R. Knight.

CK1Tlascaux-elkThis painted image of Megaloceros is from the Lascaux cave in France. These cave paintings are some of the earliest palaeoart, describing the animals in detail.

DSC01573Here is Megaloceros as I first saw him at the Paris Natural History Museum. In the glass case you can see another palaoartist’s bronze reconstruction. Museums often use palaeoart to show people what extinct species might have looked like. I use skeletons like this one along with modern day descendants of the animal I am sculpting to get a realistic reconstruction. For this piece I used the elk as my main modern day anatomical reference.

970011_10151549241264109_1394291812_nMy sculpture started with a pipe armature screwed to a board and some wires inside the neck, head, and antlers. I used oil clay for this demonstration. Once finished the oil clay will be molded in rubber to make a wax version for a bronze sculpture.

1098369_10151551002039109_2094373660_nHere is the finished piece. The demonstration lasted two full days, which is about how long a piece this size takes. I had such a great time volunteering for this event at the museum. It was really fun to tell the kids that attended all about prehistoric animals like this one. Nothing comes as close to how I feel about prehistoric animals as the reactions I got from telling people that this giant deer was not made up.


About Ariel Bowman

I grew up in Dallas, Texas where I learned to love nature, animals, and art. I graduated with a BFA in ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2011. I am currently working towards my MFA in ceramics at the University of Florida. This blog serves as a way for my friends and family, as well as anyone interested in my work, to view not only the finished pieces, but some of the process as well. You can subscribe to this blog to keep up to date on what I am currently working on in the studio, research, new sources, and exhibitions.
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1 Response to Palaeoartistry: Sculpting at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

  1. Markus says:

    Looks really nice! There is also a really impressive live-sized Megaloceros bronze sculpture at one of the two zoos at Berlin:

    There are also some other bronze sculptures of some extinct and living animals in the zoo, including a quite cool jumping Smilodon. By chance I found even an old book with some background information how the sculptures where made. If I remember correctly, the artist who sculpted them worked originally especially with porcelain.
    A further note to the life-reconstruction of Megaloceros: Many historic and modern artists depict it similar to red deers, but recent research has shown they were in fact closer related to fallow deers.

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