Picture the Chelsea Flower Show and you’ll probably dream of incredible floral displays. Andrew Sinclair thought of a 19ft tall dinosaur ridden by a naked fat lady wearing a top hat.
The sculptor has created the £50,000 creature for his art agent’s display at the London show and after six weeks of hard graft the prehistoric beast and its female friend were transported from his Wendover studio to Chelsea earlier this week.
Throughout his 20-year career in the business, Mr Sinclair has sculpted weird and wonderful creations from his own version of Albrecht Dürer’s famous rhino and a mechanical King Kong to simpler projects for his own pleasure.
He originally made a smaller version of the dinosaur six years ago but when Eddie Powell saw one last year he decided he had to have one for his exhibit at the flower show.
Mr Sinclair said: “The reason I made the smaller ones was because I was like a kid that had never grown up and I’ve always loved dinosaurs.
“I’ve been racing to the wire to finish because I had six weeks and at the beginning of the project I broke a rib.”
Sculpted in clay and cast in bronze resin, the dinosaur itself, a Struthiomimus, is nine feet tall and grace a 10ft stand. It will be on sale at the show and Mr Sinclair hopes its size and unique style will help it stand out from the crowd.
He decided to create a female rider for the dinosaur to give it a more fun look, and he asked partner Diane Coates to pose for it.
She said: “I agreed to do this, but he didn’t tell me the end product was going to look so different.”
A strange twist of fate gave Mr Sinclair the chance to get into the industry he now loves.
The 52 year old used to be a cabinet maker in London, but when his firm went bust in the 80s he decided to get into sculpting. A short while later he had a motorcycle accident, the compensation from which funded the building of his studio.
He said: “It’s quite an interesting beginning to a career.”
As well as doing his own work, he was employed by a High Wycombe company for seven years before going completely solo.
Perhaps his most bizarre creation was a smoke-breathing dragon with laser beams coming out of its eyes that was hung from the ceiling of a cruise ship.
Mr Sinclair said: “I do the whole lot, the sculpting, design, fixing any mechanics in, like the smoke machine.
“Some pretty spectacular stuff has gone through the studio.”
Not content with using his talents, the sculptor is also passing them on.
He and Miss Coates, 56, set up a sculpture school at the barn to teach anyone who is interested the tricks of the trade.
Mr Sinclair said: “She got more and more involved in the studio and we decided to set up the school together to pass on my experience.
“I teach everything there is about sculpture. It’s proper teaching as opposed to come along and have a go, but it’s still a bit of fun.”
Everything the couple have built up in Wendover is at risk, though, as plans for HS2 look increasingly likely to go ahead.
The studio sits just 25ft from where the line is expected to run, although he joked that his dinosaur might be able to scare away the builders.
Mr Sinclair said: “It would be nice to think that my giant dinosaur could kill off their white elephant.”
If HS2 is built, the studio will move out of Wendover and possibly out of the country.
Mr Sinclair said: “I don’t know if we could stay in the area.
“We’re thinking of moving to northern France and setting up a studio there.
“It will come down to economics in the end. It’s very expensive here.”