Sculptor with a royal connection

By Meredith Langmaid

A pretty seaside town on the Mornington Peninsula is home to the astonishing Australian sculptor, Heather Ellis. The winner of numerous awards and prizes for her three-dimensional creations, Heather’s preferred medium is bronze and her favourite subjects are wildlife and human figures. An active participant in artists’ groups and societies, Heather’s achievements include public commissions.

Heather’s stunning work has evoked much interest both in Australia and internationally. Indeed, Her Majesty The Queen has acquired ‘The Platypus’, from the Maker Marks Gallery in Collins St Melbourne, a most memorable sculpture, which is now part of the Royal Collection. Heather is justifiably proud.

Beautiful garden beds and charming water features surround Heather’s stunning home, where her bronze works of devotion add a uniqueness of their own. Pleasant walkways lead to a fully-equipped art studio where Heather and I discussed her love of sculpture. I was soon aware of the warm and personable nature of this modest yet exceptionally talented artist.

Heather was born in Mt Eliza and educated at boarding school in Melbourne. After training at the Alfred Hospital, she worked as a nurse for six years while leading a busy life with her husband and two children. Later, work as a craft teacher at a private school rapidly became a fulltime job. In 1977, Heather began exhibiting her own work. No longer teaching, she works in her home studio where she is both surrounded by, and inspired by, nature.

Heather uses a ‘lost-wax casting’ technique that dates back nearly 7,000 years to the early dynasties of Egypt. Molten metal was poured into a mold, or ‘investment’, created using a wax model. Once the mold was made, the wax model was melted and drained away, or ‘lost’. Some time between 4,000 and 3,000 B.C., bronze was discovered, probably by accident, to be harder than copper or tin. Thus began the era known as the Bronze Age.

The aesthetic potential of bronze continues to be explored to this day, thanks to the commitment and creativity of sculptors such as Heather Ellis.

Heather now generally limits her work to commissions, limited exhibitions and you can find some of her works at Gallery Vespa in Sorrento.