Aurochs is inspired by the Paleolithic cave paintings of North Africa. The aurochs, now extinct, is considered to be the wild ancestor of modern domestic cattle. It was depicted in cave paintings, in Ancient Egyptian reliefs and Bronze Age figurines. The bull was prominent in many ancient religions and mythologies in the Near East and Europe as a sacred symbol of a life-force, and potency, fertility and bounty of the land. Often the animals’ horns were used in votive offerings, as trophies and drinking horns and in many cases the horns were shaped to hold a symbolic sun or moon.

In Rickards sculpture the aurochs’s horns mimic the shape of a crescent moon creating a mysterious and profound link with the symbolic light and magnetic energy of the moon. She has simplified and stylised the dramatic, majestic lines of the animal so that it stands, strong and angular with curves under the legs, body and horns which imitate each other, juxtaposed against the softened rectangular of the back and legs. The symbolism of the moon connects with the natural virility of the body which is solid like the earth. The sculpture offers a connection with an ancient instinctive nature which appeals to us on a deep level. Rickards has loosely inscribed the words ‘Temple Body Antennae Horns’ on the front body of the auroch. The words reflect the inspiration that stimulated the creative process for Aurochs and gives an insight into her way of working. She interprets the sculpture with the words: ‘My Body is a Temple and I have Antennae Horns … as do you. And this is the time to remember who you truly are: You are Earth, You are Water, You are Fire, You are Ether, You are Spirit, You are all of these. Remember’.

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About the Artist

Rickards was born into a farming family on the Berkshire chalk downs and now lives in the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire. When she was twelve she saw pictures of ancient and classical sculpture which resonated with her and have continued to inspire her work. Rickards completed a BA Hons in Sculpture at Cheltenham and realised that her self-expression clashed with the fashionable trends being promoted. Although her final show was successful she ceased her creative output for some years, and instead used her skills in restoration in stone, fresco and wood conservation. She was awarded a scholarship in 1985 to study art and architecture at Il Centro Artigiani in Venice for three months. This freed her creative block and she began carving in stone for the first time and exhibited locally and internationally.

In 1990 Rickards had several commissions and a solo show in Switzerland and went on to be the Post-graduate Diploma student at the City and Guilds London Art School in 1990-1992. She received first prize for her work with Elizabeth Frink and was invited to become a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. Following this, Rickards travelled, absorbing the art of other cultures and studied a range of psychologists, Jung in particular. The practise of yoga and meditation became her focal point in life and in sculpture. During a self-imposed healing journey of carving the big stones of White Eagle and Warrior, she found the key to the energy that continues to drive her work.

Rickards believes that stone carving, ‘is ultimately all about light and shadow and the courage to keep on digging more deeply when an apparent mistake has been made. There are no mistakes, just the opportunity to find more material to work with – a great analogy for life’s processes.’ Her pieces take time to develop and she has found that it is ‘only after the initial impulse that the deeper insights come.‘

Rickards has undertaken several corporate commissions and has work in both public and private collections, most recently the Musée Mougins in the South of France.

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