Fran Nicholson


My current body of work is about dogs doing what they do best – living in the moment, unselfconsciously, and at peace being themselves. These virtues, which come so naturally to dogs, are often life-long goals for their human companions. Luckily for us, dogs are brilliant teachers. At present, I enjoy the company of two resident Zen Masters – Lucy and Buddy. I’m learning every day.

This show is largely a tribute to them, and to all the dogs I’ve known and learned from over the years. Especially the pound puppies and strays that are dealt a lousy hand, yet somehow manage to keep going – not just surviving, but actually thriving! Here’s to you!

The first series of bronzes are small head studies, each with a favorite object. For some it’s a stick. For others it’s a ball or newspaper. Frisbees are good, too. All are happy and spin or wiggle when touched, much like the real dogs they are modeled after.

My second series consists of bronze dogs in relation to cubes, like the props used in formal photo shoots. True to their nature, these dogs would rather skip the formal poses and just climb down. Maybe roll over for a belly rub, or sit and scratch an itchy spot. So they do, and so I sculpt them.

Series number three is a set of wall-mounted bronze dogs that have no pedestal or base whatsoever. Gravity does not concern them. They are Frisbee Dogs making the perfect catch! While absolute focus and coordination define them as world-class athletes, their joyous faces reveal a pure and simple lust for life. They are happiness incarnate. As a wise dog once said, “Carpe discus!” (“Seize the disk!”) My thoughts, exactly!

Nicholson’s Bobbles are all unique (not editions). The waxes come from her basic molds. She then models and sculpts them to make each individual dog one-of-a-kind. These different characters have more fur, less fur, droopy ears or cocked, as the mood strikes. Personality and a favorite dog object - ball, frisbee, shoe, are then added to complete the portrait.

I've made so many of these Bobble Heads that over time it's inevitable that I repeat themes, or repeat combinations of breed-and-object. Although themes are repeated and combined, they are unique, as each one is worked by hand and captures the artist’s gesture and the spontaneous mark of hot metal tools on wax.

“Both of my dogs are mutts, and my perfect dog doesn't ever have to fit the perfect breed standard. I'm more concerned with conveying their nature, expression, and heart. The really important qualities!”