The Artist

I am very proud to be celebrating my 25th year of business as a sculptor, with my own work style, which is unique and distinctive as a Sally Dunham creation. Over this time I have been privileged to work with a range of fantastic galleries and private customers.

My passion for creating is as strong as ever and I still get excited each time I pick up the clay to create something new, whether it be for a new idea I have had or to realise a bespoke design for a customer. I hope that my work brings the viewer as much enjoyment to see and own as it does to create! My main constraint is finding time to produce all the ideas I have as I am continuously inspired by the world around me, things I see and people I meet!

My love for art started much longer than 25 years ago, right from a young child I would spend hours creating models from fimo and fabric. My first real introduction to clay came when I started Sixth Form College in Cambridge and was given a choice of media in which to specialise. As soon as I touched clay I was hooked. I remember carving into a block of clay to create my first figure, and my wonderful teacher, Neil, saying to me, "Remember, the figure is in there, you just have to discover it". This has always stayed with me. When I started my Degree course at the University of Wolverhampton, I spent two years experimenting with a range of techniques. Towards the end of my second year and the duration of my third year, my current style began to evolve and continues to develop to this day.

Sally Working

Many things have, and continue to inspire me. I am often inspired by 'People watching', just observing how people go about their daily lives and interact with each other. I also frequently have ideas as I am drifting off to sleep and have to jump up and make a quick sketch! Several themes for the ‘uplifting’ pieces in my Mister Herbert range have come to me whilst I have been practising yoga! There are also many times that a conversation, a song, a current event, or even a passing statement or saying, sparks a thought process and ideas. A huge early influence on me was the work of Rodin. I clearly remember visiting the Rodin museum in Paris on a trip with my sixth form and being totally mesmerised and blown away by his work. I had studied Rodin's work in books, but that trip to his museum definitely had a huge and lasting impact on me. I still love to take time out to visit Galleries, as there is no replacement for seeing art in person.

My Work

I create each sculpture from my home studio in Soham, which over looks my garden. In 2014, I was proud to open a small gallery next to my studio to showcase my work. In August 2022 I was very excited to expand on this and open my own gallery called Metamorphosis The Gallery in Wells-next-the-sea. This provides a showcase for my own work in this beautiful Norfolk seaside town, alongside the work of over 40 carefully selected independant artists.
Within my scullptures, I enjoy creating a range of human and animal figures using my patchwork style of building with clay and have fun thinking of new adventures for Mister and Mrs Herbert!

All of my work is unique and is individually handcrafted from clay using a mixture of Earthstone and Porcelain clay. Each sculpture is constructed hollow using NO moulds or interior supports, using small slabs of clay pieced together almost like a patchwork quilt. The individual pieces of clay can be seen in the finished sculptures giving them a lively, distinctive finish and tactile surface. I enjoy working with a range of themes including figures and animals captured in a realistic way and in a more light-hearted, simplistic approach within my 'A moment with Mister and Mrs Herbert' collection.

Within my figurative sculptures (unless personalised to order), I base my work on an onlooker's view of others existence. I intend to capture a moment in time of a situation or circumstance experienced by ordinary people, without becoming involved with complex human politics. My work is narrative; my intention is not to portray a specific person but an anonymous characterisation of a collective type. Each piece captures a tiny segment of a day in the life of somebody's life experience. The source of my work comes mainly from memory, photography or quick on the scene sketches.

I have created a wide range of animal sculptures including domestic, farm and wild animals and also sea creatures. Each piece continues my patchwork style and I add texture to the slabs to represent animal skin and details of fur where appropriate. I study the animals where possible and take photographs to work from in the studio. Within each sculpture, I strive to capture the animal in a natural pose that best reflects the character of the species. I aim to use my construction method to enhance the sense of the animal skin and feeling of movement, almost as if the animal will move at any time.

Mister Herbert was born from an idea I envisaged in 2010 and named by my son who was 5 years old at the time. Mister Herbert started as a small figure 12cm tall. This 'mini' Mister Herbert is joined by a larger version and together they continue his adventures; I have great fun thinking of new ideas for him. Mister Herbert can also be seen joined by Mrs Herbert and their family and friends! The wall mounted pieces in this collection often feature words. I love reading and think that words can really brighten our day and make us think about things in a different way. I often use the wording as a background, something you can 'dip into' as you walk by to hopefully uplift you. I also make use of photos on the background of canvases, these are applied using a special technique, the idea of the finished effect being that they are slightly faded, almost like a memory of a scene rather than a perfectly clear picture. Many of the pieces in my 'Mister Herbert' collection have have a thought provoking sentiment, perhaps to make you reflect, or as a reminder to look for the positives when life throws its challenging days. But importantly, I hope you find a piece that makes you smile as that is my main intention!

Some of my work features pieces of shipwrecked timber. The sheer beauty of this material and the history and stories it holds has inspired and challenged me to create pieces I may not have otherwise envisaged. At times you can almost feel the timber whispering to you as you work with it, and I think it offsets the sculptures beautifully. Some of the timber has been dated as early as the 1600s ranging to the late 1800s.

I enjoy all aspects of my work for different reasons. I love the challenge of my more complex pieces, particularly concentrating on capturing something in a realistic way, or a difficult pose that maybe shouldn't balance; but I also enjoy letting my imagination run free with thinking of new adventures for Mister Herbert. I love how the character I have created can go on limitless adventures from mystical, to driving a camper van, flying a dragon, or surrounded by words to provide a positive feeling to the onlooker. My intention with my work is to be thought provoking, provide a sense of happiness, calm or positivity and to make people smile!

I hope you enjoy my work and find a piece to 'Make you smile, or make you ponder'.

Clay in the Studio
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