Arts: How Saddam Hussein parted an artist from his money - Life and Style - The Independent

Arts: How Saddam Hussein parted an artist from his money

An artist has won a legal battle for damages after a foundry lost the mould for his sculpture. He looked forward to collecting pounds 38,500 in damages after a 10-year wait, only to discover that Saddam Hussein had come between him and his money. Michael Street

Sculptor Denis Curry was understandably proud of the image of a barn owl he had carefully crafted from lengthy studies of the aerodynamics of birds in flight.

However, his plans to produce a series of nine of them, each worth thousands of pounds, were rudely shattered when the company producing the bronze statues announced it had lost the mould.

Mr Curry was only able to receive one bronze cast from the series before the company admitted it had lost the synthetic rubber mould, which to this day remains missing.

Now he has won his court case after nearly 10 years of struggle. But the Wales-based artist may never be able to collect the pounds 38,500 High Court award; because the firm, Morris Singer Foundry Ltd, went into receivership after being owed hundreds of thousands of pounds by the Iraqi government for a 36ft-high bronze flag in Baghdad.

The company - which also made the famous crossed-swords statue in Iraq - has since been bought by new owners and the new firm is trading successfully as Morris Singer Ltd.

Yesterday the artist, from Clynderwen, Pembrokeshire, said that despite the unlikelihood of ever receiving damages, his legal claim could bring hope for sculptors in the future. "Foundries will think twice in the future about throwing out someone's mould. They will have to be more careful about it."

His barrister, Monica Carss Frisk, said it was clear from the High Court award that foundries had to take reasonable care of sculptors' moulds. "It gives some comfort to sculptors in the future."

The long-running saga of the missing mould began when former art teacher Mr Curry, who is in his seventies, made the first plaster mould for the 2ft by 2ft barn owl in 1988. Morris Singer Foundry Ltd then made the first bronze cast of the bird, marked 1/9, which was quickly sold for pounds 2,500.

However, when Mr Curry asked for another cast in the planned series of nine to be made, he was told the mould had been lost. The original plaster model was, as is normal, destroyed when the mould was made.

"It was a real shock," said Mr Curry. "I have never been given an explanation of what happened to it. The foundries have absolute control [over the mould] and generally you trust them."

He said normally a mould was only destroyed by a foundry with a written undertaking that it had been properly disposed of. This is to protect illegal copies of the sculpture being made - in this case the barn owls are now valued at around pounds 12,000.

The owner of the only existing bronze owl is now reluctant to allow new copies to be made, because his purchase is now unique.

"This has been a long long case," said Mr Curry. "I believe it establishes a precedent for an action by a sculptor against a foundry."

The receivers for the old company, BDO Stoy Hayward, confirmed they were taking action via the United Nations to get payment from the Iraqi authorities for the flag statue.

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

    Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

    £26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

    Retail Business Analyst

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

    Senior C++ Developer

    £400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week