New work – River Scene with Heron

February 6th, 2014

In January Geoffrey installed a new commission at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum. The new piece is a low relief sculpture in stucco and depicts a heron catching an eel in the river Exe, framed by an old oak tree. Exeter Cathedral and St Leonard’s Church are in the background. It was commissioned by the Museum Friends for the Making History Gallery.

The panel is 6’ wide x 5’high and was made on a timber frame, with traditional three-coat lime plaster on riven hardwood laths. The landscape scene was modelled directly onto the lime plaster base using hand-modelled stucco.

Geoffrey once had an allotment at Trews Weir in Exeter and loved the view of the Cathedral turrets from there. Herons fish on the riverbank and Kingfishers can be seen flitting up and down the river. This heron was partly inspired by a mezzotint by Samuel William Reynolds, and partly by the birds on the Saloon ceiling at Poltimore House. The eel is a nod to John Abbott, the 17th century Devon plasterer who made Exeter’s Custom House ceilings.

The new piece is on permanent display in the Making History gallery, where it hangs next to a plaster ceiling dating from c.1680 that was salvaged from the Half Moon Hotel in Exeter before the building was demolished in 1913.

A preliminary sketch model for the new commission. Modelled in clay and cast in plaster.

Work in progress. The clay model of the heron on the left was made before modelling in stucco.

The panel awaiting installation at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

River Scene with Heron © Geoffrey Preston 2013.


Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
Queen Street, Exeter EX4 3RX
Tel: 01392 265858

Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Closed Mondays & bank holidays. Admission free