Stellar cast  

Left: Louise’s cast of Kriss Akabusi

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are inspiring artists, musicians and performers to create some powerful artworks. The creative festivities have taken a while to catch on but the works are set to contribute to the all-important legacy of the Games.
One woman making her own contribution to this pool of art and raising money along the way is sculptor Louise Giblin who has created striking works of five British sporting heroes for an exhibition called Body Casting Olympians. The models were gymnast Beth Tweddle MBE, hurdler Kriss Akabusi MBE, Dame Kelly Holmes, Sally Gunnell OBE and visually-impaired Paralympian swimmer Darren Leach.
They modelled for Louise last year and the resulting Olympian Series sculptures, sketches, photographs and bronze cast designs will be launched in May 2012 at the Mall Galleries’ East Gallery, two days after the Olympic torch relay begins.
The pieces look like Roman body armour – strong, eye-catching and oddly inspiring – highlighting the real finesse and power of the body. The back of the sculptures shows the torsos stripped and stylised while the fronts are detailed reliefs of the Union Flag with the site of the greatest achievement chosen by the five subjects.
Using a special technique developed for body casting subjects and applying designs to the surface of the resulting clay torso, Louise creates a unique sculpture. Each may be reproduced up to 12 times in cold cast metals or bronze, for the limited edition series.
Louise, an associate of the Royal British Society of Sculptors (ARBS), explains: ‘We wear achievements and things we value as armour to avoid personal scrutiny, hence my sculptures often appear to be wearing armour. I’m impressed by people who commit to goals with determination as this makes them powerful; these Olympians are awe-inspiring both physically and mentally. London 2012 is an opportunity for me to work with extraordinary people, celebrate British success and to help raise money for a great cause.’
Born in Woking in 1963, Louise studied 3D Design then BA Sculpture at Brighton Polytechnic under tutelage of Antony Gormley (sculptor of ‘Angel of the North’) and Peter Randall-Page, and MA History and Theory of Modern Art at Chelsea College of Art. She now lives and works on the Kent/East Sussex border.
Her work is produced using plaster impregnated body and head casts from which she creates a clay positive. This is carved for 5-8 weeks prior to firing in a kiln. The work is primed and then moulded using silicone, resin and fibre glass. This mould is used to make a wax copy for bronze casting or a cold cast metal copy using powdered precious metals and resin.
It was no easy task for her models. Kriss Akabusi, who will be speaking at the launch in May, is going to have his image cast in bronze. He found his experience involved a little more sacrifice. He said: ‘Having my chest shaved as smooth as a baby’s bottom and being stuck in a cast for an hour or so, are a small price to pay to have my body image preserved for time and eternity – so I’m very excited to see the finished article.’
The exhibition is launched on May 22 and will raise funds for the brain injury charity, Headfirst, of which singer Cheryl Baker is a patron.
Beth Tweddle plans to sell her torso to raise further money for Headfirst. She says: “It was an amazing experience with some funny memories, these and photos of the finished piece will be treasured forever. I like the fact that my achievements can make a real contribution towards this worthwhile charity.’
Louise is now recruiting models for her Living Legend Series 2014. She commenced December 2011 by head casting former Cabinet Minister and broadcaster Michael Portillo. In the spring she will be casting friend, entertainer and Headfirst patron, Cheryl Baker who worked with Kriss Akabusi on TV’s ‘Record Breakers’.
Body casting Olympians will show at Mall Galleries, London May 21-26 and the Olympian Series, Saffron Fine Art, Battle from May 21 until June 2. For more details about Louise’s work, please visit