Guy Taplin is passionate and obsessed with making wooden birds. He is without doubt one of the most celebrated international artists in his field.
Guy was born in 1939 in the East End of London on the eve of World War Two. Guy was then evacuated to Herefordshire before returning to Epping. Taplin's love affair with birds started as a young boy, inspired during a country walk in Hereford with his mother. Guy says, "The birds are, for me, a key to entering an environment which is just pleasurable and birds are something that everyone knows just a little bit about." When Guy returned to London he would spend hours exploring London parks and the fields and hedgerows of nearby Epping. He left school at fifteen and got a job as a Post Office messenger boy.
After a near-lethal spell in the army, he careered through endless menial jobs, finding brief fame making hippy buckles in ‘Swinging London’ before working as a bird keeper in Regent's Park while training to become a Buddhist monk. In the park, Guy remembers "I used to look after the ducks in the park and saw all these decoy ducks in the antique markets. I thought 'I could make some of these' - somebody came into the park and asked if they could have a few and it took off.” So in 1975 he began carving birds and four years later he dedicated his full time to fine art.
A chance meeting with Eric Lister, who was the director of the Portal Gallery, resulted in an exhibition of his work. The show was an enormous success and everything sold. Guy has not stopped since. His Essex workshop sits on a beach at the head of two tidal estuaries, the Blackwater and the Colne. Surrounded by birds and deposited driftwood Guy is in his element. Guy looks for wrecked boats, flotsam and jetsam, broken jetties and dunnage from passing cargo boats to make his sculptures. He finds that this kind of material has a special significance because it has had a life before he creates his bird forms. Weathered by time and the elements, each piece of wood bears marks that enhance his design, suggesting the outline of a wing or layers of plumage.
Guy states, “I've never regarded myself as a real artist, I'm a bit basic I guess. I like my work to be fun and that you don't have to know a lot about art to enjoy it.” Guy’s early birds sold for £15. His larger sculptural pieces, a blend of found materials and wood bought for the work, now command fees of more than £30,000. He has exhibited internationally and his fans include Joanne Lumley, Ridley Scott and Michael Palin.
Primavera has a collection of around 6 pieces by Guy.