Proud tribute to influential Midhurst sculptor

Sculptor Sally Hersh
Sculptor Sally Hersh

Sculptor Sally Hersh had one goal in mind in her final months before she died from cancer last August – completion of her book to help others learn the skills of sculpting.

On June 30, the book, Practical Sculpture, is due to be published, bringing much pride to Sally’s widower, Tony Brooks.

At the time of her death, aged 74, he was too grief stricken, he says, to do very much in the way of tributes to her achievements.

But the publication of her book now seems to him an ideal opportunity to make up for his self-confessed ‘shortcomings’ last year and mark her professional activity and influence.

Practical Sculpture, to be published in hardback by Robert Hale Ltd at £25, is described as a complete and fully-illustrated step-by-step guide to the art of stone carving and modelling, and casting portrait heads.

Written to ensure no part of the sculpting procedure is left unexplained, the methods and techniques which are set out result from Sally’s three decades and more of teaching in the UK and France, and they are aimed at the amateur and the professional.

The added advantage for the former is that chosen projects in the book are considered within an amateur’s ability, without the need to invest in expensive equipment.

Passing on her knowledge and skills through teaching, including 30 years at West Dean College, is one component of the Sally Hersh influence.

She was also a prolific exhibitor between 1975 and 2007, and commissions took her work to private and public locations across the world – and even to the ocean bed with bronze memorial plaques laid on the decks of the Bismarck and HMS Hood, whose wrecks were discovered by Lodsworth-based underwater explorer David Mearns.

She first came to prominence with lifelike portrait heads in bronze. She then moved on to stone sculpture and her lettering in stone included designing, calculating and making accurate sundials, for which she gained prominent private and public commissions in this country, Europe and the United States.

Midhurst boasts a Sally Hersh sundial, located on the south-facing wall of the Chichester District Council area office in North Street. It was created for the opening of the office in 1995.

She won a number of British Sundial Society awards, and her last major sundial commission was for the centrepiece at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University, to commemorate the life of Princess Margaret. It was unveiled by the Queen.

Other works closer to her Lodsworth workshop included the Cowdray memorials in the churchyard at Easebourne, to John Pearson, the 3rd Viscount Cowdray, and his sister Nancy, Lady Blakenham, and a memorial plaque at Goodwood House commissioned by the Duke of Richmond, commemorating the 3rd Duke’s founding of the Royal Horse Artillery.