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Making the Royal Albert Hall, 150 Year Anniversary Statues

In November 2023 two new statues were unveiled at the North entrance of the Royal Albert Hall, marking the 150th anniversary of the Iconic building. We were honoured with designing and carving the life sized life portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to adorn the empty niches of the Northern Porch overlooking Hyde Park. The objective was to create two original statues telling the story of the Hall and its conception. A rough watercolour from the before the hall was built showed a suggestion that statues were originally intended for the niches, along with terracotta plaques above each niche saying Victoria on the left hand side and Albert on the right.

Following extensive research, we proposed the creation of statues depicting Victoria and Albert as they appeared on the opening day of the Great Exhibition in 1851, which was held in Hyde Park. The exhibition marked the height of the Victorian era and was a significant milestone for Prince Albert, who utilized the proceeds to purchase the land on which the Hall was constructed. Commemorating this historic day seemed a fitting way to mark the 150th anniversary of the Hall's establishment.

Aided by the Royal Collection Trust, we obtained archive photos and designed the statues to resemble the couple on the day of the exhibition as closely as possible. Victoria's tiara and peacock feathers were replaced with a traditional crown to accentuate her status, and her iconic plaits were chosen as her hairstyle to reflect the youthful portraits of her from the period.

Creating a Maquette.

During the first phase of the project, our team worked closely together to create quarter scale wax maquettes of the Victoria and Albert statues. In order to ensure correct proportions, we also fabricated quarter scale models of the existing alcoves, which we used to provide a reference for our models. This collaborative process allowed us to achieve accuracy in the design, and ensure that the maquettes would be a suitable representation of the final product.

To facilitate the planning process and gain a better understanding of how our maquettes would look in situ, we took our quarter scale wax models and had them scanned. We then inserted these digital models into a rendering of the alcoves and façade, which allowed us to see the statues in their intended location for the first time. This was an exciting moment for the team, as it allowed us to visualise how the final product would look and make any necessary adjustments before moving on to the next stage of the project.

Sculpting Royalty

For the life-sized statues, we auditioned life models and hired period dress for them to wear. Using historic photographs, paintings, and sculptures of the couple to achieve the required likeness. The modelling stage was a collaborative process, using the expertise of the whole team. We worked together to ensure that each detail was captured accurately, and that the final product would be a true reflection of the vision we had for the project.

Selecting Portland Stone

One of the key factors that led us to choose Portland Stone for the Victoria and Albert statues was its ability to match most of London's historic stone work. This was important for us and the planning committee, as we wanted the statues to blend seamlessly over time into the architecture of the Royal Albert Hall and the surrounding area.

We chose Portland stone over Italian marble as we felt that marble statues would take too long to settle in to the surroundings and wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate British stone.

Through this process, our team was able to work together seamlessly and utilise each member's unique skills to create beautiful and historically accurate representation of the Victoria and Albert. Each member of the team played a vital role in the success of the project, overcoming numerous challenges along the way.

Carving the statues by hand in our London workshop allowed us to maintain complete control over the quality of the work, and ensure that every detail was executed to perfection. Each statue was made from two blocks of fine Base bed Portland Stone, which allowed each team member to work on a block and ensure a rapid turnaround to meet the tight deadline.


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