A project founded in May 2019, leading me on a yearlong journey learning about that which I thought I already knew, and pushing the limits of the best bronze foundry in the world. The ultimate project that I could ever visualise from my self styled role of celebrating the history of F1 in art, for the most famous name and story in the sport. Despite the obvious restrictions of a global pandemic… we managed to find a way to mark the 50th anniversary of 2nd June 1970 on schedule. Presenting…. Bruce McLaren.
The life size statue shall like a proud father permanently overlook the incredible collection of historic cars on the McLaren MTC boulevard, all bearing his name. And whereas the unveiling event was of course vastly different to that which was originally planned, in my mind it couldn’t have been more perfect – with Amanda McLaren lighting the 50th candle at her father’s feet, as the setting sun burst through the panoramic widow’s overlooking the lake behind. Behind Bruce was the first car he ever raced, a 1929 Austin 7, and the 1970 M8D in which he tragically lost his life during testing at Goodwood.
The history mentioned so far I already knew, being a lifelong fan of F1 and of course McLaren, but in my quest for detail as accurate as possible, I needed to get much much deeper to learn about Bruce. Senna in many ways was easy in this regard as I remembered much of the detail myself being in my life-time, and his history being so heavily documented – although that bringing with it an intense scrutiny. Even with Amanda in on the project from the start, Bruce was much more difficult to find detail on – his height for instance, I had to guess from photo’s alongside the known height of Sir Jackie Stewart. Fownes gloves that I couldn’t find anywhere so had to replicate from scratch from just a couple of useful images. The helmet and goggles were the only easy thing to find as they sat in their display cabinet at MTC, but capturing them in 3D bringing it’s own set of challenges. And to recreate in bronze with the appearance of being a different harder material to that of the race suit and skin – when of course it isn’t, it’s all bronze.
The event I chose to celebrate was obvious, the 1968 Belgian GP – the first win for McLaren F1, and actually the only F1 win for Bruce in his own branded car. Much of the statue’s posture comes from images of Bruce on the podium after winning that race, and his facial expression coming partly from a famous photo sitting in the car the year before – a cheeky grin that I thought was perfect. Using a combination of clay sculpting and 3D modelling from 2D images to bring him to life, no matter how confident I might have been that I’d captured his energy accurately…. seeing Bruce and Amanda’s silhouette together really did stop me in my tracks.
As with Senna before I am releasing limited edition statues from this same model, which helps offset the investment into the initial statue. Bruce is available in an edition of 100 bronze statues 45cm tall like the one Amanda is holding. And again like Senna at 60% – about 1m tall.