You may or may not know that this year marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, one of which is held at Lincoln Castle. To celebrate, Lincoln is creating a special Charter Trail across the city with statues in the form of King John’s Barons. There will be a total of 25 6ft fibreglass Barons to find, each decorated by artists and sponsored by local businesses. I first heard of this opportunity back in February from a post by Lincoln BIG, who I’d been involved with back when I owned Lincoln Art Works gallery. Without delay I submitted three designs, knowing that this was something I really wanted to be part of. I designed one with Lincoln University in mind, one for the RAF and a final for a Beekeeping Baron. A long month went by and I finally received an email from Lincoln BIG. To my delight, all three of my designs were shortlisted to show the sponsors and two of them wanted me to do the designing!! The University and The Lincoln Hotel, for which I had a month to sort out the final designs. The only way to describe how I felt was apprehensively overjoyed! One was to be a Graduate Baron and the other to be a 60’s Baron. After meetings, both sponsors couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the project and my designs. Just a little bit of redesigning later and I was ready to meet the barons in person! They were a lot LOT bigger and heavier than I imagined, despite having bought a metal hand truck in preparation, I decided to give back-up a call immediately.
It really is amazing the amount of attention you attract when lugging something heavy and body-shaped down a crowded area. But soon both the mighty figures were ready to be unwrapped…
Right, let’s start with The Graduate! I had arranged with the University to attach a mortarboard to the top of the Graduate Baron, assuming it would be approximately head-sized. I’d have to have a re-think about this one. It wasn’t long until I had the idea to use an actual mortarboard. It would be large, strong and yet lightweight. Even better, I found a plasterers hawk which had a handle attached and so would stay in place with a single drilled hole (and the strongest resin I could get my hands on). Before long the painting was on its way! Whilst the resin and glue were setting I sketched out my design on the back of him and the University logo on the front. Then I began to add base coats of simple colour to get a better idea of overall composition. The single strokes of paint combined with the thicker more opaque layers created depth and movement that I wasn’t expecting, so I left some areas more translucent. Next, I started working on the detail. The buildings on the back… the hair, irises and a slight blush on the face. The hardest part by far was the chain-mail effect, created with individual dots but started off by stencilling. After the detail was done and checking with the sponsor, it was time to varnish! The shine gave the statue a whole new finished feel. The second baron seemed to progress a lot faster after what I had learnt painting the first. I got on with the design quickly. I started off by painting the logo on the shield and then added some more detail to the sword and face… I gave him long hair with a headband and hippie glasses! Starting to look a bit like John Lennon in his military jacket, the base colours are all down here. Time to start on the 60’s montage on the back!
I was surprised at how different the varnish made them look, luminous and professional. Very happy with the results, it was then time to move them to join the others waiting at the launch event location…. eek!The trail through the city starts on the 13th June until the 13th of December. Each of the 25 barons have a letter to find which will create a phrase at the end! I am told you will receive chocolate coins for doing so correctly!
My University Graduate baron can be seen downstairs in the Waterside Centre, and my 60’s Lincoln Hotel baron can be seen near the Roman well in the Bailgate, St Peter’s square. Happy Trailing!
There are now mini barons that can be purchased to paint, yourself! The Lincoln Hotel contacted me asking whether I would personalise theirs to match their original… I couldn’t resist
Love the outcome and reception that it got on display. I’ve had more requests for mini barons since, besides buying a couple of my own, so there’s more to come!