This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Bold New Sculpture For The Melbourne Cup

Studio Visit

In case you missed it, Spring Racing Carnival is underway in Melbourne. Along with the races and the fashions on the field, come new opportunities for the creative community to craft memorable experiences, from fabulous floristry, to bespoke design and artwork.

We recently caught up with renowned sculptural artist Anna-Wili Highfield, who unveiled her largest horse sculpture to date at The Lexus Design Pavilion yesterday.

1st November, 2018

Internationally acclaimed sculptural artist, Anna-Wili Highfield. Photo – Hugh Hamilton.

Anna in her studio in St Peters, Sydney. Photo – Hugh Hamilton.

The artist works on her commission for The Lexus Design Pavilion at the Melbourne Cup. Photo – Hugh Hamilton.

At two-and-a-half metres, this is her largest sculpture to date. Photo – Hugh Hamilton.

The sculpture incorporates ceramic, waxed plaster, rope, brass, and wood. Photo – Hugh Hamilton.

‘It is large and light-filled and I love it there,’ Anna-Wili says of her studio. ‘I’ve been there for four years. Its in an industrial estate next to friends with cool tools I can use and also a ceramics studio. It’s great.’ Photo – Hugh Hamilton.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 1st November 2018

‘Conceptually, the subject of animal life and spirit persists for me.’ – Anna-Wili Highfield.

As a child, Anna-Wili Highfield taught herself to draw horses on the back of racing cards, as she accompanied her dad to put on occasional bets at a TAB outlet. ‘I loved going to the races, picking from the horses in the yard. I first won on a horse called Magic Gleam. I don’t bet anymore, but I’ll always remember the soft continual monotone of the racing commentary on the radio,’ recalls the Sydney-based artist.

We spoke to Anna-Wili earlier in the week as she finalised what now seems like a very fitting commission: her largest ever horse sculpture, which will go on display at the Lexus Design Pavilion during Melbourne Cup. The work stands, or ‘gallops’, at two-and-a-half metres atop a steel frame, and incorporates ceramic, waxed plaster, rope, brass, and wood – though it’s not concealing any intruders!

It’s been a while between catch-ups, TDF first profiled Anna-Wili Highfield’s ethereal animal sculptures back in 2011. Over the years, her forms have become more geometric ‘to balance their organic qualities,’ as she describes. Her materials have expanded too – originally known for her sculptural work with paper, ceramics are a new focus. Nevertheless, her creative process has remained a constant: ‘…build it up, tear it down many times – until the core spirit of the work is revealed’.

‘I wanted to make something big and bold but still elegant and very much alive,’ tells Anna of her latest sculpture. She highlights ‘the squiggle’ of the geometric arched frame, as an extension of a more figurative mane, in keeping with her penchant for contrasting organic and architectural shapes. ‘The plaited rope around the face reminds me of Ancient Greek sculpture, but the stand is a wave of modern form,’ she elaborates.

At her studio in St Peters, Anna fired the clay elements for this horse bust before assembling them onto the frame, then adding plaster-dipped-fabric, wood and brass accents. She hopes the dynamic new work will draw racegoers in, that they will stand in its presence and feel its energy for a moment. ‘Its’ a hybrid sculpture – classical sculpture combined with modernist forms – and I hope people notice, but if they don’t then that’s ok, I think it has a balance that might make it light enough to play gently in the room.’

While she admits it was a ‘messy wrestle’ making this horse, she’s very happy with the result! ‘It’s just the evolution of something… I feel like with every piece, I’m getting closer.’

Following on from the success of her exhibition at Olsen Gruin gallery in NYC earlier this year, Anna-Wili Highfield is developing new ideas for a show in mid-2019. ‘I want to pick up from there and keep going, there’s a path there somewhere,’ she says. Follow her art here.

This Week

News

Patricia Piccinini And Alpha60 Join Forces On A New Collaboration

The celebrated Australian artist and local fashion legends launch a new series of textiles titled ‘Hugs’, which are now installe...
Sponsored

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Artist Creating Ceramics Inspired By Ancient Mesoamerican Culture

From dub music to the Chinese Song Dynasty, the influences of Enrique Tochez Anderson stretch far, wide and into the past.

On The Market

This Elegant Victorian With An Eclectic Architect-Designed Extension Is For Sale

Period features meet unique, contemporary design in this Ascot Vale, Melbourne home.

Stays

This Origami-Style Beach Shack Is The Perfect Coastal Getaway

This architecturally designed coastal retreat on Stradbroke Island looks out over the glittering Coral Sea. The most dreamy vacation destina...

On The Market

An Interior Designer’s Glamorous Victorian Pad Hits The Market!

Chelsea Hing’s apartment in an 1890s Italianate mansion in St Kilda East is up for sale. This is *the one*!

Travel

A Stylist's Bookmark-Worthy Guide To Byron Bay + The Northern Rivers Region

Stylist Jono Fleming shares his impeccable recommendations for the best eating, shopping, swimming and sleeping spots on the NSW North coast...
Jono Fleming

Shopping

Lockdown-Inspired Woven Outdoor Picnic Mats, From One Of Our Fave Local Stylists!

Stylist Nat Turnbull launches Laze, a new brand of outdoor mats for lounging and picnicking, with designs by Alice Oehr.

On The Market

An Architect’s Iconic Carlton House Is For Sale For The First Time

Tube House, one of very few residential houses ever designed by acclaimed architects Denton Corker Marshall, is for sale in Carlton.

Homes

A Biophilic Family Home Among The Trees

The newly-renovated Warrandyte family home of Millie and Dave Wells perfectly blends indoors and out!

Tiny Homes

The Architect-Designed, Prefabricated Tiny House Of The Future

FABPREFAB have teamed up with TRIAS to create Minima – a series of prefabricated, small dwellings suitable as home offices, living spaces,...

Architecture

A Casually Confident Beachside Home

A falling down period home in South Fremantle has been brought back to life with a new extension by David Barr Architects.

Family

An Honest Conversation On Single Parenting By Choice + Donor Conception With Takeawei Ceramics Founder, Chela Edmunds

Chela Edmunds of Takeawei ceramics shares her story of becoming a mother to 18-month-old Ocean via sperm donor and IVF.

Architecture

A New Melbourne Home That Follows The Sun

This Eaglemont home has been cleverly designed 'to almost disappear', by Architects Eat.

News

A Father-Daughter Duo Explore Warlawoon Country In A New Show At Koskela Gallery

‘Ngaboo-lang’ by Rammey Ramsey and Kathy Ramsay comprises seven painted works exploring their ancestral land.
Sasha Aarons

Creative People

A Travel-Inspired Ceramics Collection That Will Take You On Holiday!

Queensland-based ceramics brand Marloe Marloe launches a new collection of vessels inspired by the seaside!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

The Melbourne-Based Maker Pushing Paper To The Limits

We drop by the studio of graphic designer and papercrafter Magdalena Ksiezak, ahead of our Meet The Maker event next month!
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

Sean Meilak Takes The 'Shelfie' To New Heights

We stop by the artist's incredible studio, where he's busy at work on epic new installations.
Elle Murrell

This Week

Shopping

Lockdown-Inspired Woven Outdoor Picnic Mats, From One Of Our Fave Local Stylists!

Stylist Nat Turnbull launches Laze, a new brand of outdoor mats for lounging and picnicking, with designs by Alice Oehr.

Travel

A Stylist's Bookmark-Worthy Guide To Byron Bay + The Northern Rivers Region

Stylist Jono Fleming shares his impeccable recommendations for the best eating, shopping, swimming and sleeping spots on the NSW North coast...
Jono Fleming

Architecture

A Casually Confident Beachside Home

A falling down period home in South Fremantle has been brought back to life with a new extension by David Barr Architects.

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Artist Creating Ceramics Inspired By Ancient Mesoamerican Culture

From dub music to the Chinese Song Dynasty, the influences of Enrique Tochez Anderson stretch far, wide and into the past.

News

Patricia Piccinini And Alpha60 Join Forces On A New Collaboration

The celebrated Australian artist and local fashion legends launch a new series of textiles titled ‘Hugs’, which are now installe...
Sponsored

Architecture

A New Melbourne Home That Follows The Sun

This Eaglemont home has been cleverly designed 'to almost disappear', by Architects Eat.

Tiny Homes

The Architect-Designed, Prefabricated Tiny House Of The Future

FABPREFAB have teamed up with TRIAS to create Minima – a series of prefabricated, small dwellings suitable as home offices, living spaces,...

Stays

This Origami-Style Beach Shack Is The Perfect Coastal Getaway

This architecturally designed coastal retreat on Stradbroke Island looks out over the glittering Coral Sea. The most dreamy vacation destina...

On The Market

An Architect’s Iconic Carlton House Is For Sale For The First Time

Tube House, one of very few residential houses ever designed by acclaimed architects Denton Corker Marshall, is for sale in Carlton.

Creative People

A Travel-Inspired Ceramics Collection That Will Take You On Holiday!

Queensland-based ceramics brand Marloe Marloe launches a new collection of vessels inspired by the seaside!

Homes

A Biophilic Family Home Among The Trees

The newly-renovated Warrandyte family home of Millie and Dave Wells perfectly blends indoors and out!

Family

An Honest Conversation On Single Parenting By Choice + Donor Conception With Takeawei Ceramics Founder, Chela Edmunds

Chela Edmunds of Takeawei ceramics shares her story of becoming a mother to 18-month-old Ocean via sperm donor and IVF.

News

A Father-Daughter Duo Explore Warlawoon Country In A New Show At Koskela Gallery

‘Ngaboo-lang’ by Rammey Ramsey and Kathy Ramsay comprises seven painted works exploring their ancestral land.
Sasha Aarons

On The Market

This Elegant Victorian With An Eclectic Architect-Designed Extension Is For Sale

Period features meet unique, contemporary design in this Ascot Vale, Melbourne home.

On The Market

An Interior Designer’s Glamorous Victorian Pad Hits The Market!

Chelsea Hing’s apartment in an 1890s Italianate mansion in St Kilda East is up for sale. This is *the one*!

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

The Melbourne-Based Maker Pushing Paper To The Limits

We drop by the studio of graphic designer and papercrafter Magdalena Ksiezak, ahead of our Meet The Maker event next month!
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

Sean Meilak Takes The 'Shelfie' To New Heights

We stop by the artist's incredible studio, where he's busy at work on epic new installations.
Elle Murrell

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.