Telford TF8 7DQ
The Eagle Slayer sculpture by John Bell has returned to Ironbridge after various travels and travails.
The significant life size, iron sculpture, made by the Coalbrookdale Foundry to be shown at the Great Exhibition, Hyde Park in 1851, was one of the earliest examples in the UK of cast iron being used to create a large work of art, instead of a functional object. The dramatic subject is of a young shepherd avenging the killing of one of his sheep by shooting the attacking eagle using a bow and arrow. Described at the time by the London Illustrated News ‘as the finest statue in the Exhibition.’
After 150 years of outdoor exposure and several moves, the sculpture was in urgent need of rescue, repair and conservation. Diana oversaw the project and will present the story of the chequered history of the sculpture, the research and conservation stages involved, resulting in the re-display of the Eagle Slayer and its’ recent return to the place of origin.
Diana Heath is the Senior Metals Conservator at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Originally trained as a silversmith and jewellery designer, gaining a BA Hons from Sheffield Polytechnic, Diana was then offered a four-year traineeship by the V&A, so adapting her skills to become a specialist Metals Conservator, of all types of metal object including sculpture, from the vast collections at the V&A. She has worked as the Senior Metals Conservator at the museum for over 30 years, involved in preparing objects for major galleries, loans as well as national and international exhibitions. Diana has developed a particular interest and knowledge in the manufacturing methods and conservation of World sculpture from Medieval and Renaissance periods to the 19th century.