Left: Tanya has always loved animals, here as a teenager with a rescue hen. Her parents were both sculptors and used to get many animal models and also rescues, who would then stay and live out their lives with the family.

Animal Sculptor - me sculpting a tiger animal sculpture during my apprenticeship

Above Right: Apprenticed to her mother and father, both sculptors, Tanya worked on many of their large sculpture commissions.

Above and Below: Tanya’s mother, Lorne McKean, and her father, Edwin Russell, were both professional sculptors with long careers in their respective fields. Lorne was described by the Daily Telegraph as one of the world’s greatest equestrian sculptors. Edwin was a wood and stone carver, as well as a sculptor. He carved the canopy and crucifix of St Pauls cathedral in London, and his sundials are found in royal collections worldwide.

Above: Lorne sculpted a number of royal commissions, including HRH Charles III (then Prince), HRH Elizabeth II &  HRH Prince Philip.

Above left: From the beginning of her apprenticeship, Tanya gained some lovely commissions. The Otter trophy Tanya sculpted for the Young People’s Trust for Endangered Species (now the Young Environmentalists Trust).

Above: Tanya creating a leopard for an exhibition at the London Stock Exchange. Originally the piece was only meant to be two and a half feet (75 centimetres) long. This was the first exhibition she submitted work to, and led to her first commissions.

Above and Right: Tanya’s Lying Stag, one of her first commissions, still situated prominantly on 1 Arthur Road Wimbledon, in London.

Above & Right: Tanya worked on whichever commissions were offered. She hadn’t yet found her niche, and worked on many figures for a range of lovely and interesting people.

Above: Tanya and the other apprentices work on many of Lorne and Edwin’s large commissions, including the Horsham Sundial.

Right: Here are Tanya’s plague rats and her flea! One of the relief panels for the large (History of Transport Sundial’ above Tower Hill Station, London.

Above: Queen Elizabeth II unveiling the Horsham Sundial

Above Left & Below Left:  Tanya and Lorne both demonstrated at Art in Action, a large and very popular arts event. Waterperry House and the School of Philosophy and Economic Science played a big part in Tanya’s early life. There, she learned about Advaita and the philosophical teachings of Swami Shantanand Saraswati, (a colleague of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, guru to The Beatles). While no longer in the School, Advaita philosophy of non-duality, meditation and spirituality, still underlies Tanya’s sculpture and approach to life and nature.

Above Right: Tanya’s early work demonstrates a number of influences from her parents, most clearly in her early equestrian work and this public sculpture of two cats, which draws on the technical lessons of making sundials.

Right: As Tanya worked on figurative commissions, she developed many of the skills and techniques referenced in her later book, Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure.

Tanya founded an art college named The Sculpture Academy, which later became The Art Academy in London in 2018. The aim of the Art Academy was to encourage each student to develop their unique vision and give them the practical and conceptual skills to enable them to realise that vision. Tanya wanted to create a school that took the best from an apprenticeship system, where students were being taught by and learning practical and professional skills alongside masters in their field. But also took the best from the traditional college system where students had time and encouragement to experiment broadly, to learn art history and context and were able to continually broaden their tool set. 

Right: The earliest photo we have of Tanya after she founded The Art Academy, working on Pheonix the Calf for an animal rights parade.

When she departed as Principal in 2018 it had grown to teach over 2,000 students a year on short courses, and 150 on long courses. The Art Academy had 5 buildings in central London, and was working to provide a validated degree, which it achieved a year later.

Art Academy Building

Below: As part of its professional development programme The Art Academy provided student artists teaching opportunities, and one of these was an annual trip back to Waterperry, (where Lorne had taken Tanya for so many years), where the students would teach the public sculpting for beginners, at the big Art in Action arts and crafts festival.

Above & Right: While running her college took up most of her time, Tanya was beginning to find that the themes of animals, welfare and the environment spoke most strongly to her. Tanya loves the practical side of art but also loves art as a reflection of the journey of life and how powerfully art can speak to people, touching their hearts in a unique way and making it a powerful tool for conveying people’s passions and messages.

Communion woman and bird sculpture front view

Above: Tanya’s real passion is nature, animals, wildlife and welfare and it is very important for her that she can use her art to speak about it and to help wherever possible. At this time the figures that she sculpted for herself become semi-abstract, the stylisation complementing the messages about animal and people relationships in her art.

Above: Tanya, actually participated in one of her own postgraduate courses at the Academy. It was a fantastic opportunity to experiment with completely different mediums like nature interaction, land art, photography, graphics and digital. She also honed her artistic goals for the project to three principles, which have remained founding ideals for her to this day.

  • How do I as an artist make artwork with nature without destroying or spoiling it?
  • How do I share the incredible beauty and ingenuity I see in nature at every step?
  • How can I as an artist help to stop the immense and unbelievable weight of suffering that exists for millions of creatures in our world every day?

Above Left & Right: Making a decision to move to part-time work for her college, Tanya started preparing to move back to her professional artist’s practice. She focused on income from shows and commissions.

Fawn Sculpture in Shell - Tanya Russell Animal Sculpture
Animal Sculptor - me sculpting a tiger animal sculpture during my apprenticeship
Animal Sculptor - me sculpting a tiger animal sculpture during my apprenticeship

Above left: Tanya volunteered at a Wildlife Rescue Centre, where she worked cleaning out and caring for the wild animals that were taken in for treatment and rehabilitation. This work felt so right and important for her and was a wonderful balance and inspiration for her artwork.

Animal Sculptor - me sculpting a tiger animal sculpture during my apprenticeship

Top Left & Above Right: Another incredibly formative moment is the adoption of Asha, from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Tanya discovered like so many others have done, the joy of adopting a rescue dog. Asha was difficult in many ways, but her anxiety at loud noises and cars was overshadowed by a boundless affection for Tanya, and joy in her home.

Below Right: The darker side of learning about the world, particularly the fate of innocent animals, was a major fork in the road for Tanya’s artwork. In her later years volunteering at the Rescue Centre, she managed the rehoming of the dogs. Exposure to the circumstances and the state that many of them came in, alongside a growing knowledge and awareness of the wider suffering of so many wild and domesticated animals became the pivotal focus of her work. Practically it is really important to her that she helps where she can, She gives many thousands of pounds a year to animal charities, through donations of sculptures to many fundraising events and also giving 10% of all the proceeds of her sales to animal charities.

A choice. Tanya explored the approach to the subject of animals suffering through direct exposure and shock. At a gallery in London, she showed her emaciated chained dog, with Tanya’s own blood staining it, alongside some pretty graphic images of dog abuse she came across whilst working at the rescue centre. The response was powerful and just what she hoped, so many people turn away from the horrors. Tanya says ‘As an artist, facing the suffering yourself and encouraging others to do the same, is really important’. She explored other pieces directly addressing animal suffering, environmental decline and habitat loss for herself and for galleries and it is a part of her work that she would love to spend more time developing.

Animal Sculptor - me sculpting a tiger animal sculpture during my apprenticeship

Below: The path she chose. Tanya strongly believes that showing the beauty and awe of nature and the heart and unbreakable love of our best relationships with animals, that you can inspire people to explore, understand and respect nature and animals both domestic and wild. The incredible examples of our best wildlife filmmakers show just how powerful an influence this can be in the world. So Tanya spends much of her time in the utter privilege of capturing the beautiful qualities of animals, and animal-people relationships. There is also a practical aspect to this side of her work – it pays the bills! The farm and all the animals on it are not inexpensive to maintain and we are constantly trying to create more spaces for nature here. So far some of the bigger focuses have been planting over 1000 trees, and built a 18 meter wildlife pond and we are constantly reviving and renewing the wildflowers and habitats in all our pastures.

Above: Moving to Moelfre, a small Welsh hill farm, was a big step towards getting closer to the nature that was becoming such a core part of Tanya’s sculpture practice. With a very rare, pre-existing sculptor’s studio, it also gave her the opportunity professionally to create larger work.

Life-sized Wild Boar sculpture right side view Wildlife Artist of the Year Show
Great Dane Dog Statue
Large Stargazer Ring Outdoor Statue

Right: Happily, Tanya and Charles got engaged and were married. He helps runs the sculpture business so that Tanya can devote her time to sculpting. 

Below: Tanya’s interests in animal welfare have led us to give homes here on the farm to rescue animals, and also to a herd of alpacas. Tanya became welfare officer for Wales for the BAS (British Alpaca Society). A large part of her enjoyment of them is that in the UK alpacas don’t normally enter the food chain and are very well cared for.

Tanya is best known for her dog sculptures. Considered to be the leading dog sculptor in the UK, she is commissioned by clients around the world to sculpt their dogs in bronze, with about 50% of commissions being international.





Below: Alice the Roe Deer, who was rehabilited on our farm after being attacked. Recovering from brain damage and injuries to her legs, she is now fully recovered and now lives happily at the British Wildlife Centre. 

Our relationship with animals and our world is at the heart of Tanya’s sculpture, and slowly we think that things are changing for the better, as people around the world stop and take stock of the creatures, places and habitats that are so precarious and precious, and growing more so. The more we know, and the more we love, the more we will act to keep better care of our planet. 

Right and Above: Space for Nature Spiral