We have been asked time and time again how it has taken fifty years to commission a statue to Arkle. The answer is always the same: we were waiting for Emma MacDermott.
Emma has managed to create what has been described as a “warm statue”. It’s the type of piece one can happily look at for hours on end and never tire of it. It’s big and very impressive from the off and then you begin to notice the details: how Pat’s legs look too long but are just perfect for the tall jockey he was; how Arkle’s stag ears seem exaggerated until you put them into perspective with the air of confidence the statue exudes; how you can’t help but reach out to touch the dimpled bronze reins to check they aren’t real. Then something else takes over, the partnership that saw Arkle and Pat to the winner’s enclosure time and time again. This is the “warmth” that Alison Baker described, Pat’s shy smile and Arkle’s alert observation. They look set to step off the plinth.
Emma was born in Dublin in 1957 to Nick and Anne MacDermott. Nick is a farmer, ex-chairman of the Kildare Hunt and trustee of Punchestown racecourse, so Emma certainly knows her horses.
Having studied at St. Martins College of Art in London, Emma has gone on to exhibit in Ireland, America, France, Germany and the U.K. She divides her time between her large studio in England and her smaller studio in Wexford, where she, her husband Pete and the ever present Whistle (four legged friend) spend a great deal of time.
Emma has mainly produced pieces for private commission. Her vast portfolio of sculptures include a lifesize statue of Sadlers Wells for Coolmore stud, Caerleon, Vintage Crop for Dr. Michael Smurfit, Nijinsky for Vincent O Brien, Ridgewood Pearl (larger than lifesize) for Sean Coughlan, Stanerra for Frank Dunne. In 2008 Emma produced Ouija Board for the Earl of Derby and in 2010 Dr and Mrs Heffernan commissioned a statue of Clopf.
Equine sculptures are just one string to Emma’s bow and over the years the subjects have been many and varied including a bust of Liam Cosgrave for the Department of foriegn Affairs, a life size bronze of John Magnier, and camels for Sheikh Mohammed.