Ghostly echoes of the majestic living beings that were once on display in the Tower of London can now be seen in the form of incredibly realistic animal sculptures made of galvanized chicken wire. Artist Kendra Haste was commissioned by the Historic Royal Palaces to create life-sized creatures including lions, baboons, lions, bears, giraffes and more for display in the space over a ten-year period.
Says the artist, “I hope to convey through the sculpture the presence and power of these animals held in the unnatural confines of the tower.” Seeing the sculptures in these spaces, it’s apparent that they were in the wrong environment altogether, cramped into the building that once functioned as a royal prison.
Installed both indoors and out throughout the Tower and its grounds, the sculptures include such details as a trap clamped to the rear leg of a chained polar bear. A towering giraffe sticks its head up a staircase, and lions prowl on the grass.
“My attraction to wild animals was born of the desire to connect with and discover something in their nature which has long ago been lost within ourselves,” says Haste. “These pre-occupations became obsessive and led me to study, in particular, the larger mammals and of course primates with whom we share so much – flesh, blood and muscle as well as traits of behavior. But it is to other quite unique aspects; the sense of another ‘being’, an individual spirit, inherent in each animal that is the true subject for my work.”