Art Inspired by Zoology Museum

Aberdeen artist Bibo Keeley’s work is often inspired by organic forms and the themes Life and Death and our Connectedness with the Natural World. Here she talks about her bronze sculpture which is currently being exhibited in Aberdeen. The visual inspiration for the work stemmed from her research at the Zoology Museum of the University of Aberdeen.

“My sculpture AIRBORNE is a stylized representation of an eagle’s head, cast in bronze. It juxtaposes the ideas of freedom and conflict, and the weight of the bronze echoes the heaviness of shrapnel, which contradicts the lightness of the natural flight of birds.

The head is depicted without eyes, which suggests that the real eagle, flying above the ground, is blind to our human conflicts, ideologies – and the artificial divisions which man has created on earth’s landscape.

The sculpture is exhibited as part of Cause and Effect: An Exhibition in Response to Recent World Conflict at the Pentland Gallery in Aberdeen.

Bibo Keeley bird study of flamingo and eagleThe inspiration for the piece can be traced back to my visual research at the Zoology Museum, where I spent many hours drawing and photographing a variety of bird specimens.

From the original sketches I created further drawings and watercolour studies, narrowing down the different kinds of birds. I narrowed the selection even further when I prepared 3D studies of the heads of the flamingo, the gannet and the eagle. I made these pieces using plaster and mixed media. It was the eagle which I found most fascinating, and which I then decided to turn into a bronze sculpture. There is a great sense of permanence associated with bronze which is inspiring to me.

Bibo Keeley 3D study for bronze sculptureCreating a bronze sculpture from an original model is an involved and expensive process. The process I used is known as the ‘lost wax’ method. To begin with, I made a two-part mould from the original model. Into this I poured molten wax, which then solidified to create a hollow positive version. Then, I removed the mould and coated the wax version in liquid silicon ceramic. Once dried, I melted out the wax to leave a hard and heat-proof ceramic shell. I made two versions of this whole process with the intention of creating two identical bronzes. The mould-making process took several days, before I took it into the foundry for the bronze pouring.

Bibo Keeley pouring the bronze - 500kbDuring the pouring, one of the shells broke, creating an irregular cast. Such unexpected developments during the creation of an artwork can be very inspiring. They have the potential to take an artist’s thought process into a different direction. In this case, the eagle head which emerged from the mould, with its uneven edges, immediately reminded me of strangely beautiful shrapnel. Because of its incomplete head, it could only sit facing upwards to the sky, but still appeared majestic.
A video of the Bronze pouring can be found here:

I am interested in figurative sculpture including primitive art, which is often imbued with symbolism and spiritual meaning. Numerous nations and tribes of very different cultural backgrounds and beliefs attach special significance to the eagle, varying from great strength and warrior courage to spiritual balance and peace.

Bibo Keeley AIRBORNE bronze sculptureAs an artist who seeks inspiration from the natural world, the eagle – which has suffered greatly from persecution and loss of habitat but is now a protected species and re-established with human assistance – is a symbol of hope.”



Bibo Keeley’s bronze sculpture AIRBORNE can be seen in the show ‘Cause and Effect: An Exhibition in Response to Recent World Conflict’ at:

Pentland Fine Art
88 Holburn Street, Aberdeen AB10 6BY
15- 30 January 2016

QRBibo Keeley’s website:

also accessible via this QR code.


About uoamuseums

The University of Aberdeen's Museums include King’s Museum and the University's Zoology Museum. The museums can claim to be Scotland's oldest, with records of museums and collections as far back as the late 17th century. Thanks to their status as a Recognised Collection of national significance, the Zoology Museum’s displays are currently being improved, while King's Museum hosts changing exhibitions drawn from across the collections, particularly those formerly in Marischal Museum. Visitors are warmly welcomed to the museums, and there are no charges for admission. Marischal College now houses the Museums Collections Centre, caring for and conserving many of the collections.
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