Robert Hitchcock works away at his Perth studio surrounded by a remarkable treasure trove of sculptures created over the last five decades.
Prolific and versatile, the illustrious sculptor wanders about among his creations – a sea of torsos, figures, busts, animals and abstracts – perusing and thoughtfully adding to new works.
His latest pieces, at various stages of development, are taking shape in soft brown clay on armatures.
The sheer variety of subject matter, fashioned in various materials ranging from bronze to resin, is mighty impressive. There’s no disputing a lively imagination and fine-tuned artistic talent is at work here.
“I usually have about 10 pieces on the go at once, so there is plenty to keep me busy,” says the artist.
“I’ve been working as a sculptor since 1965 and I’m not sure how many pieces I’ve created in that time. It’s a lot.”
Hitchcock, 73, is recognised as one of the leading portrait sculptors working in Australia today.
He was born in Perth and is of Irish and indigenous Australian descent. As a youngster he worked as a carpenter and entered formal study in his early twenties at the Department of Art at the Perth Technical College.
He initially enrolled as a fine art student to major in painting, however due to impaired vision from an accident as a child he had difficulty in seeing and mixing colours.
Realising an affinity with three-dimensional art, that became his passion. So began a long love affair with sculpture.
Today he is best known for his life size and super life size bronze sculptures, which are located in private collections and public places in Australia and overseas.
“I get all kinds of requests for pieces,” he says. He points at a head and shoulders bust of a man.
“A lady came in and wanted me to sculpt her husband,” he says. “When he dies she wants it buried, so one day in the distant future he might be dug up and immortalised.”
Alexander the Great, eat your heart out!
Robert is a master at busts and is keen to see this side of this business grow.
“I’m always happy to receive commissions for busts and figures – they are a favourite of mine and I get real joy from creating them,” he says.
“It’s a nice way to capture the image of family, friends or someone who really means something to you.”
He shows me several busts of well-known Western Australians. He has created busts of prominent eye surgeon Professor Ian Constable, Mary Raine, Professor Lesley Marchant and many public and sporting figures.
“I had David Helfgott here in the studio after they made the movie Shine,” he recalls. “He came by and said he wanted me to do his bust, and I was happy to do it. He’s a very nice man and we got on well.”
Robert was also responsible for the life-size bronze statue of Yagan (finished in 1984), which now stands as a symbol of WA indigenous heritage on Heirisson Island in the Swan River.
There are also busts of some famous international artists in the studio.
Leonard Cohen peers from a plinth, Vincent Van Gogh is strangely haunting over by the wall, and Rudolph Nureyev dances on a shelf.
Robert became well know early in his career for animal pieces, particularly horses. His first commission came in 1970 to create a quarter life size sculpture of the champion racehorse Aquanita.
As his reputation grew he received a number of similar commissions from the equestrian industries including racing, pacing, polo and quarter horse racing.
These early works led in later life to him receiving commissions for over life size equestrian sculptures of horses in Norseman, Merredin, Moora and at Ascot Racecourse.
A recent high profile commission was for the SAS Garden of Reflection in Perth.
This consists of three over life size SAS figures in various uniforms from 1957 (the inception of the SAS in Australia).
As busy as ever and not slowing down, he continues to create 3-D delights in all shapes and sizes.
If you would like to view and perhaps purchase a piece of Robert’s work, he is holding a studio clearance this month, with the first showing on Sunday.
Visitors are welcome to come by, chat with the artist, and stroll among his many creations, most of which will be for sale.
The Robert C. Hitchcock Studio will be open 10am – 5pm Sunday 13 August, and 10am – 5pm Sunday 20 August. Address: Unit 8, 26 Rudloc Street, Morley, WA.
Robert can also be contacted regarding commissions in all subjects, including his popular busts.
To arrange a private viewing or to discuss a commission, Robert can be contacted 0414476406 or email: Hitchcock@conceptual.net.au.
More information can be found at www.sculpturerobertchitchcock.com.