My Wooden Hippopotamus


Hippopotamus carved in wood

Hippopotamus carved in wood – a favourite sculpture

When I was young – I’m not sure what age exactly – my Godmother gave me a wooden hippopotamus as a present – I forget too whether it was Birthday or Christmas, or just because she was visiting!

I remember at first thinking it was rather strange, but very quickly fell in love with this wooden carving, handled it often and even took it to bed with me – I laughed back at it and its matchstick teeth.  It still gives me great pleasure and I’m very fond of it.

It came under very close scrutiny yesterday as I got a real surprise.  I’m currently reading a book by Jonathan Blackwood called ‘The Sculpture of John Skeaping’ and came to a photograph of a sculpture by Skeaping of a Hippopotamus in Burmese hardwood.  The surprise was that it looked almost identical to my little wooden hippo ornament!


Hippopotamus sculpture by John Skeaping

Hippopotamus sculpture in Burmese hardwood by John Skeaping


When side-by-side, they do look different – but similar enough to wonder about whether Skeaping had seen an ornament like mine (or even my own dear hippo!),  or if someone copied John Skeaping’s sculpture.  What a mystery – I’m not even sure how you go about finding something like this out.

I’m enjoying the book immensely, and now reading with extra vigour, in case there are some clues!


The Sculpture of John Skeaping book

The Sculpture of John Skeaping by Jonathan Blackwood (published by Lund Humphries in association with The Henry Moore Foundation)


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