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Sculptor Andrew Sinclair on bringing a David Bowie tribute to Aylesbury

PUBLISHED: 11:36 21 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:36 21 February 2017

Andrew at work on a statue in his studio

Andrew at work on a statue in his studio

Archant

We talk to the artist who will bring a stunning tribute to the Starman to Buckinghamshire later this year.

Acclaimed sculptor Andrew Sinclair thought his best days in Bucks were behind him when the threat of HS2 forced him to move away from the county two years ago. Andrew had built up a glittering reputation over almost two decades in Wendover. But, in December 2014 he moved lock, stock and barrel to Devon after learning the high-speed rail network was due to come within a stone’s throw of his studio.

So it’s a mixture of joy and amazement for him that he will shortly be returning in glory to show the world the first life-size statue of David Bowie, sited in Aylesbury’s Market Square. Andrew has won the commission to sculpt the iconic piece of art following an epic crowd-funding campaign that raised an incredible £115,000 in just over a month. All the cash has come from the public, either companies or individuals, and no taxpayers’ money is involved.

In all, 747 people pledged support. Almost 500 of these were from the UK, with a surprising 250 contributing from abroad including 125 from the USA, and others as far afield as Australia, Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Ireland. Eight backers, a mixture of individuals and companies, gave the maximum £6,000 each.

“I am absolutely ecstatic that people have shown so much faith in this project and my ability to create this tribute to David Bowie,” said the 55-year-old. “I was really sad to leave Buckinghamshire two years ago, but the move to new studios in Devon was just too good to ignore.

“I honestly felt at the time that, apart from a few visits to friends and family, my close business connection to the county would largely be lost as I concentrated on more national and international projects, as well as building up the new business in Devon. I am absolutely thrilled and a bit stunned, therefore, to be coming back now to complete such a landmark piece of work.”

He added: “The great news is that all the local councils have agreed to this, and it’s a huge talking point in Aylesbury. We believe it will really help put the town on the map.”

Although the outline of the design has been agreed, the precise details of the statue need to be finalised. Andrew is currently working on a maquette, a miniature version, which will form the basis of the full-size sculpture.

He explained: “As a Contemporary Realist sculptor, my aim is that this sculpture will be a true representation of David Bowie: with Ziggy Stardust the primary character, relevant to his appearances at Friars, with his subsequent multiple personas depicted in the background.

“He was constantly re-inventing himself, inspiring people around the world - so it’s vital that my sculpture does the same, telling a story to draw people back to discover something new.”

Andrew was hired by music promoter David Stopps, who says the sculpture could become the biggest ‘Unique Selling Point’ for Aylesbury, and possibly for the whole of Buckinghamshire. It will be sited under the arches in Aylesbury Market Square where flowers were placed following Bowie’s death a year ago. Mr Stopps has run music club Friars Aylesbury for 47 years and has been instrumental in highlighting Bowie’s strong connections to Aylesbury.

Bowie chose Friars Aylesbury to perform the world debuts of two of the most iconic albums of the 20th Century, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Hunky Dory. He refers to Aylesbury Market Square in the first line of his classic Ziggy Stardust song ‘Five Years’, and formed the ‘Spiders’ in the Friars Aylesbury dressing room in September 1971.

Andrew has a Bowie mask from the film the Man Who Fell To Earth which, quite bizarrely, a student from his Devon school had in the back of his car. The mask is an impression of Bowie’s face so he believes the likeness will be perfect.

The plan is for the statue to be in place in Market Square in September 2017.

But the entire project was conditional on the campaigners raising the funds themselves, and there was a strict understanding that no public money could be spent on it.

Mr Stopps launched a 40-day campaign, through online crowd-funders Kickstarter, on October 27 2016 with a goal of £100,000. As if the target wasn’t ambitious enough, there was the added twist of having to get all the pledges in before the deadline, 11.38am on December 6.

“The Kickstarter rules stated that if the full £100,000 target wasn’t reached by the deadline, then all the pledges would basically count for nothing,” said Andrew. “It could have reached £99,999 but the fundraising campaign would have had to go straight back to the drawing board if the full target wasn’t hit. It was tough, but I suppose it protected the integrity of the process.”

Mr Stopps, who describes Andrew as a ‘brilliant’ sculptor, said: “We know that it is the only statue of Bowie currently being planned anywhere in the world, and it will attract thousands of Bowie fans from all over the world to Aylesbury, boosting the local economy by millions of pounds each year. The Bowie statue will be the centre-piece of rebranding Aylesbury as a music town.

“Thousands of people will come to see it – and this is just the beginning.”

In celebration, Friars Aylesbury will present Holy Holy at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre on April 3 2017. Holy Holy feature the only remaining Spider, Woody Woodmansey, on drums and long-time Bowie producer and collaborator Toni Visconti on bass as well as Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17) on vocals. They will be playing the whole of the Ziggy Stardust album live. “It will be amazing to hear Woody play that classic drum intro to ‘Five Years’ at Friars Aylesbury for the first time in 45 years,” said Mr Stopps.

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