Girl with a Jaguar is to be found in the north west corner of Regents Park, amid a collection of sculptures which include Girl and Fox, Boy and Butterflies and six timber seats. Collectively they inspire imaginative play but also come in handy as solitary pieces if you feel like climbing or sitting or balancing or jumping very high.
Tom Harvey worked with a group of school children from St James’s and St Michael’s Primary Schools in Westminster to tease out ideas. They visited the site and created drawings and clay models on the theme of ‘play in nature.’ Funding was provided by the National Playbuilder Programme. Harvey specialises in working on large scale sculpture in wood (in this case mainly from Richmond Park), often using a chain saw to produce ambitious works relatively quickly. He says the speed of the work allows ideas to flow freely and helps to create a sense of dynamism. He carves directly without a scale model. It’s a bold approach - hard to turn back on decisions made – but this piece illustrates how good it can be.
The figures ask to be touched and stroked. The tension in their bodies is almost palpable. You can ‘see’ the jaguar skeleton, and ‘feel’ the muscles and sinews and skin which clothe it. It looks like an animal which is not going to be distracted at any cost. According to those who have revisited the sculpture over months it has weathered and cracked and changed colour - and is all the better for it. The small, jagged but almost parallel cracks which run down the animal's flank could almost be lines drawn by a cartoonist to indicate speed.
The artist is deeply interested in the 'otherness' of the creatures that we share the world with and Girl with Fox demonstrates how the nature of animals and humans can mirror one another.