If you’ve been for a wander around the Pendle Sculpture Trail recently you may have noticed a majestic white unicorn standing proudly in the middle of the woods. She’s the work of Barnoldswick-based duo Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson who together run sculpture company, Incredible Creations. As well as creations for the Pendle Sculpture Trail in Barley, they’ve also made a climbable dragon and smaller sculptures perfect for in the home or garden!
Colne-born Victoria has always been a keen artist: “I’ve always followed art throughout my life. I worked at Blackpool Pleasure Beach making sculptures including the dragon above the ghost train and some paintings in the Haunted Swing. Then, I came back here and found a job at Entre-Prises, a local climbing wall company in Kelbrook and that’s where I met Lee.” Lee had been at the company for 19 years but decided to go it alone with Victoria and together they opened Incredible Creations in August 2017.
“We make a selection of things –from small ornaments through to sculptures. We’re also aiming to create a range of climbing wall features as well – including a dinosaur,” says Victoria.
“Can you imagine taking your kids to go climb on the T-Rex, it would be brilliant!” Lee laughs.
However, away from climbing sculptures, the pair have been busy creating mystical creatures for the Pendle Sculpture Trail.
“We saw an appeal for artists to help create the sculpture trail,” says Victoria. “We applied and had a couple of ideas. One was woodland creatures that were all linked with a little rhyme or puzzle to make it interactive. The second was a mythical creature and then we offered them Zeta the dragon as well.”
“When you create something and can see people enjoying it, it’s amazing”Victoria Morris
Zeta was the pair’s first creation, a climbable dragon. She didn’t make her way to the sculpture trail so she’s living outside their workshop in Barnoldswick, however the mystical creatures appeared in November 2018.
“The first sculpture leads you to the others,” Victoria grins, “and there’s a bit of a challenge. You have to discover Bogart’s name.”
“[Pendle Council] are creating an app for the sculpture trail, but it’s been suggested we could do one as each of our characters have a poem and that poem is written in the voice of the character, so we suggested we could get them voiced,” Lee adds.
Sculpture trails are popping up throughout the country and inspiring thousands of people of all generations. I wondered if Lee and Victoria found it important for families to get out and appreciating art?
“Not only that, it’s important for kids nowadays to get off their consoles and phones,” Lee sighs.
“It’s giving people something new to go and see,” Victoria adds, “especially with mythical creatures as it catches people’s imaginations and gets them out there playing and thinking. The response has been incredible. The unicorn is very popular, we went to give her a wash as she was very muddy!”
Lee continues to explain that while they were recently up there, in just two and half hours they saw constant stream of families.
“They all want to put their kids on the back. We stood and watched one family as the mother jumped on and her husband jumped on behind her!”
The thought of someone jumping on a sculpture in an art trail makes me sit up a little straighter but Lee and Victoria are surprisingly cool with it.
“Because it’s sculptures, it’s artwork,” Lee shrugs, “but because we’ve come from a climbing background, we thought we’d make it durable.”
Victoria adds: “They have to last a minimum of five years, so we made them out of rock coat and that should last quite a bit longer. It’s used in the climbing world and is a mix of sand resin that goes rock hard when it sets.”
Phew! Well, at least they aren’t going to break. Although we wouldn’t recommend climbing up them for safety reasons. So how do they make the sculptures?
“We make a steel frame for extra strength then apply mesh to get the shapes we need and then we fibre glass it, make up the rock coat and paint them,” Lee answers,
“they take anywhere from a week to a few months.”
One of the most unique aspects of their sculptures are the glass eyes.
“It’s something we want to keep in all our sculptures as it gives them life. It looks like they are watching you!” Beams Victoria.
With so many projects going on and a range of creations, I wondered where the duo get their inspiration from.
Victoria smiles, “Personally, I take all my inspiration from nature. I like to be accurate when I’m making things and even if it’s a mythical creature like the unicorn, I look at how the bones fit together and the muscle structure and try to make them look as accurate as possible.”
And one thing that excited Lee and Victoria during their research for the Pendle Trail was the wealth of local legends and tales of fairy tale creatures including The Bogart of Towneley Hall – and if like us you’re wondering what a Bogart is…
“It’s a mischievous house spirit,” Victoria grins, “Bogart is very Lancashire, others probably call them imps.”
The pair were also inspired by tales of a black dog (Shuck) between Todmorden and Burnley hence their black dog sculpture.
“We thought wouldn’t it be brilliant if you could actually go and see one of these things in the forest!”
And now you can thanks to Pendle Council making use of unused United Utilities land where the sculpture trail is. It’s a dream come true for Lee and Victoria to see people enjoying the work they love so much. “It’s great job satisfaction,” Victoria grins.
“When you create something and can see people enjoying it, it’s amazing.”
The pair are now working on new projects including eggs ‘from Zeta’ which can be bought on their Etsy store, their climbing works and bespoke works for people who want a sculpture in their home or garden. With more sculptures no doubt coming, some incredible dragons to climb on and a true passion for the creatures they create, we can’t wait to see what Lee and Victoria get up to next.
If you want to see their mythical creatures, head to the Pendle Sculpture Trail in Barley (which we’re reliably informed will have some exciting new additions this spring!) or for more information on their other work head to their website incredible-creations.com.