Nick Bibby is widely regarded as one of the preeminent sculptors of his generation. Largely self-taught, the three-dimensional form has always been at the forefront of Bibby’s creativity. Nick began sculpting commercially at the age of just 16, and by 19 was the director of a leading miniature figurines company. He went on to work as chief design consultant for a French art company, and then as a sculptor and model-maker for television and stills advertising in London. Returning to his first love, the natural world, he began sculpting in bronze in 1991.
From a young age Bibby’s passion has been nature and the natural world. He has both a fascination for and strong understanding of anatomy, and he closely studies the behaviour, habitat and life cycles of his subjects – animals, birds and wildlife. Fascinated by both form and detail, Bibby models with a fluidity and energy that few can equal, simultaneously and effortlessly combining that energy with a jewel-like attention to detail, resulting in sculptures that look as though they live and breathe. Each of Bibby’s creations are perfectly formed and seemingly captured in motion, with every detail of fur, feather and the interplay of muscles exquisitely rendered. The resulting sculptures are both beautiful works of art and loving portraits, be they bird, animal, or human.
Bibby’s sculptures range from monumental to miniature, but all show an exquisite attention to detail. Beyond an initial thumbnail sketch, he rarely produces working drawings, preferring to document his subject through photographs and immediately begins working a concept into three-dimensions. Bibby initially creates a supporting armature of steel and aluminum that often closely matches the skeleton of his subject. Clay and wax are then added to the supporting armature as the form is built up, and constant adjustments to composition, pose and form, are made in the search for the perfect aesthetic balance. Once the form is complete, Bibby then uses a huge variety of tools to create the exquisite surface textures and details that replicate his subjects’ unique features. This part of the process is perhaps the most laborious, but it is what makes Bibby’s work so unique and full of life.
The sculptures are cast in bronze by Pangolin Editions, the most prestigious bronze foundry in England, and all bear the Pangolin Foundry mark along with the limited-edition number and artists mark. Pangolin excel in their application of the pattination, the coloured surface of the bronze, which is created by applying different chemicals to the surface under extreme high temperatures to create a variety of patterns and colours on the surface of the bronze. In Bibby’s work, the colours and textures of the pattination replicate the unique colouring of his subjects.
Bibby’s work is known to and collected by a global audience, including major collectors, international governments and famous artists. Throughout his artistic career Bibby has received many notable commissions. In 1999 Bibby was commissioned to sculpt a dozen, life-size, scientifically accurate bronze sculptures of extinct birds and animals from the islands Mauritius, Rodrigues and Réunion, including the most famous extinction of all – the Dodo. This series of sculptures were created to raise awareness of the species lost and the species we continue to lose, whilst also raising funds toward continued conservation work on the islands through their sale. The “Bibby” Dodo is on permanent exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
More recently Bibby was commissioned by Brown University in the United States to sculpt a monumental, life-size Kodiak Brown Bear, (the University’s mascot), which stands in pride of place on their campus in Rhode Island. Named “Indomitable”, the fifteen-foot bear was installed in 2013 and a second edition was installed just off Oxford Street in London the following year.
More recent works have included a life-size Emperor Penguin which is on display at the Wilson Museum in Cheltenham, England and a Humpback Whale nicknamed “Hermione” which is 1/20th the size of a life-size Humpback, freestanding and perfectly balanced.