Hoard's animals brought to life by top artist
ANCIENT Anglo-Saxon animals featured in the Staffordshire Hoard are to be brought to life in 10 sculptures.
Internationally acclaimed artist Katharine Morling has been working on the series of ceramic sculptures at her London studio since the start of July.
Once finished, they will go on display at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Hanley, to help showcase the world-renowned Hoard.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council commissioned Katharine to create the display as part of the London 2012 Festival.
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To help her find inspiration, Katharine, a Royal College of Art graduate and 2010 World Crafts Council Triennial first prize winner, was allowed to get her hands on the priceless collection, which dates from 650AD.
She said: "I'd heard about the Hoard on the radio before I was invited to the museum to see it for myself.
"I was amazed when I saw the collection and even more so when I was allowed to hold it.
"From then I started asking myself who were these people who had made the pieces and what were they doing all those years ago, and that really helped with my work."
Katharine was instantly drawn to the depictions of animals that decorated many pieces in the Hoard, and what they symbolised to people who had worn them.
She said: "Perhaps the Anglo-Saxons thought through depictions of animals they were taking on the energy and characteristics of these wild creatures, giving them greater strength and power in their battles.
"I took the tiny images from the Hoard and transformed them into mythological god figures, brought to life in a kingdom of ceramic animal gods.
"These deities embody the power of the decorative depictions that were originally worn on the battlefield hundreds of years ago."
The 12-week London 2012 Festival is a nationwide celebration of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, bringing together leading artists from across the world.
The £70,000 sculptures commission has been funded entirely by Arts Council England.
It is hoped they will be on display at the museum by the end of October.
Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for economic development, pictured left, said: "We have worked very hard to put forward our city to be a part of the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad and it is a real privilege to be a partner in the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic movements.
"We are delighted with Arts Council England's generous support and thrilled to have such an up and coming star as Katharine working on such an exciting project.
"It again demonstrates the value of the Staffordshire Hoard as an unparalleled ancient treasure and also as a world famous attraction that boosts the profile of our city.
"And the real winners will be local residents and visitors to our museum, as once completed, Katharine's work will be given a permanent home in the museum."
As part of the exhibition, Katharine is also developing a digital animation on to re-imagine the story of the Hoard, from the artefacts depicting strange creatures being found on the surface of the earth by metal detectorist Terry Herbert, to the creatures themselves being 'unleashed from the ground'.
For updates on the progress of the sculptures, visit www.facebook.com/katharine.morlings.studio