Golden Eagle in hunting mode
My name is Andy Ritchie and I live in Loxwood. As a hobby I am a woodcarver, specialising in wildlife subjects such as birds of prey, moths, butterflies, dragonflies and otters. I took up this pastime when I retired about ten years ago, and it all sort of happened by accident.
After fifty years in the city the firm I was working for gave me a big hint about my future career path by asking me what I would like as a retirement gift. As I had always enjoyed working with wood, I thought a lathe wood be a good idea. I went on a course to learn how to turn wood, and thought that I was well set to supplement my pension by selling the many bowls and candlesticks I was about to make. Wrong! I found that there were hundreds of people doing it so the market was extremely oversupplied.
After a while, all the members of my family possessed as many bowls, cups, wine glasses, pepper mills and candlesticks that they could possibly find space for. Also, I was getting very bored with making things that were round.
At this stage, my wife and I went to the Appart exhibition at King Edward’s School in Witley – and there my life changed. One of the items on display was a bronze casting of a red kite on the wing, which was absolutely fantastic. I spent some time looking at this, and mused, out loud “I wonder whether I could do one of those in wood?” My wife, ever the realist, replied “Oh don’t be so ridiculous!” Now I like a challenge, so I set to with a nice piece of seasoned yew and after about two months of whittling I had finished my first sculpture, which I was very pleased with. Even management was impressed, despite her original doubts.
I spent my spare time for the next few months making a hovering kestrel and when the Appart exhibition came round again I submitted both my birds as exhibits. They were accepted for the show, and I was surprised, and delighted, that somebody bought both sculptures on the preview night. Maybe I had found my retirement hobby! Since that time I have made about fifty or sixty different wildlife items as commissions, gifts, and for the annual Appart show.
I get a great deal of pleasure from making these sculptures and I am extremely pleased that other people seem to get as much pleasure in owning them.