The Whitby Willow Kangaroo at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Some thoughts on the sculpture from Miriam Shone, Community Liaison Officer at the CCMM


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As part of our Travellers’ Tails exhibition we commissioned this beautiful and engaging sculpture by artist Emma Stothard. We hoped that visitors to the Museum would think about themes of representing unknown creatures through this creative reinterpretation of the Stubbs painting.

Emma Stothard is a local Whitby artist, now internationally successful for her animal sculptures in willow, wire and other materials.

Emma’s kangaroo began with a steel armature onto which she built layers of willow, woven through with glinting bronze wire. The form of the animal is expressed through a lively movement of the materials, woven and twisted together. Through the closely observed stance she has captured the alert perkiness of the Stubbs Kangaroo; listening, sniffing the air, ready to hop off at any moment!

Positioned in the Museum yard, the kangaroo is the first sight for visitors and has attracted a great deal of attention. Who could resist the chance to have a photo taken with him?

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He is a first impression and an anticipation of the painting to come, yet seems easier to relate to in his solid, tactile form; a friendly presence. The willow as a natural, organic material is warm and familiar, fascinating to search for rhythms and patterns in the definition of the Kangaroo’s shape.

For Museum staff and volunteers he is a familiar figure and we have all become extremely fond of him. Visitors, especially children, respond to him as a friend and we now have around 350 entries in our competition to name him! Yet he has also been the subject of debate, discussion and creative response, from the focus for drama workshops to the centre of a discussion between Emma Stothard and wildlife photographer Chris Martin.

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It has been said that he ‘looks at home’ in our yard and we hope he settles just as well into his next temporary home in Glasgow at the Hunterian Museum.