The Last Elk is a 56cm tall bronze sculpture depicting the great Irish Elk that roamed Ireland over 7,000 years ago. Standing over 2 metres tall, these giant Elk roamed Europe and have inspired artists for centuries, from cave paintings in Lascaux to short animated films.
This bronze sculpture is collaboration between Seán Forsyth and Cathal Gaffney based on designs from a short animated film. Using hand drawn sketches, computer modelling and 3D printing to ultimately realise a bronze sculpture is a truly unique and innovative process.
Just nine bronze sculptures have been created with five available to purchase.
The Last Elk started off as an award-winning, animated short film produced by Brown Bag Films in 1998. The film re-imagines the story of the last of the wild Irish Elk. Each animal is represented by a different musical sound; the Elk experience peace, alongside harshness and strife, but always remain harmonious. When the last Irish Elk is killed at the hand of man, the music ceases, and the Elk becomes a relic of Ireland’s natural history. As each Elk dies, so too does the instrument it is attached to until all is quiet. Animated by hand with twelve drawings per second, The Last Elk was written, animated and directed by Alan Shannon, produced by Darragh O’Connell and Cathal Gaffney with music and sound design by Darren Hendley.
The Elk sculpture is a unique piece of art inspired by the award-winning, animated short film The Last Elk produced by Brown Bag Films. The animated short film re-imagines the story of the last of the great Irish Elk. Brown Bag Films co-founder Cathal Gaffney worked with digital sculptor and model maker Seán Forsyth to initially produce a 3D computer animation model of the Elk design. Seán supervised the creative process mixing his traditional and digital sculpting skills.
The experience and expertise of our craftsmen goes hand-in-hand with artisinal and high-tech processes: 3d modelling and printing, manual welding, and patination; producing timeless pieces that harness both traditional and modern techniques. Each elk sculpture has been cast in bronze, modelled after a 3d re-imagining of the original 2d design. Utilising the latest digital tools and techniques, the various elements of the 3d model were 3d printed and cast in wax to create moulds for the bronze pour.
The wax pieces were then dipped in a ceramic coating a total of 9 times to build a shell strong enough for the bronze pour. The complete wax structures encased in the ceramic shells were then heated in a kiln until the wax ran out and all free moisture was removed. The bronze was heated up to approx. 1,200 degrees Celsius then poured into the ceramic shells. The chest pieces were then re-welded onto the body with each piece of the sculpture carefully sanded down and polished.
The Elk sculptures have been placed standing on a bronze precipice in keeping with the iconic scene from the short film. The Celtic inspired spiral motif which features heavily in the short animation is carried through to the final sculpture in the design detail on the base. To obtain the final finish, the process of applied patination was used to distress the bronze surface and yield green and brown hues. The pieces were then finally sealed in a protective clear wax. Each of the 9 sculptures has been made exclusively by one of our craftsmen, from concept design to finishing, ensuring that each piece has seen the utmost care and attention to detail. The finished sculpture comes with an accompanying certificate signed by Seán Forsyth and Cathal Gaffney with a series of images documenting this innovative process.
Cathal Gaffney is the Managing Director and co-founder of Brown Bag Films which was established in 1994. In 2002 Cathal was nominated for an Academy Award® as director of the short film 'Give Up Yer Aul Sins'. In 1998 he produced 'The Last Elk' alongside Darragh O'Connell. Recent credits as Executive Producer include the Peabody winning 'Doc Mc Stuffins' (Disney), Emmy Award® winning 'Peter Rabbit' (Nickelodeon), 'The Octonauts' (BBC), BAFTA nominated ‘Bing’ (BBC) and 'Henry Hugglemonster' (Disney).
Seán Forsyth is Art Lead with Brown Bag Films’ development team. He is an accomplished artist with a wide and varied background in the arts and visual technology. Seán began his career working as an engineer for Microsoft, Corel and Havas Interactive, before then working in the fields of 3D computer based learning, Virtual Reality and Medical Imagery. He then made the move to animation, joining Brown Bag Films in 2005.
Alan is the CCO Chief Creative Officer & Co-founder of JAM Media. Alan was lead animator on the Academy Award Nominated film ‘Give Up Yer Aul Sins’ and wrote, animated and directed ‘The Last Elk’ in 1998. Alan has recently completed directing ‘Roy 03 + 04’. He is also the series director on the Media funded, ‘Tilly and Friends’ & directed the original ‘Roy’ series, it’s sequel ‘Roy 02’, ‘Baby Jake’, along with various series such as the Media funded, ‘Funky Fables’ series. He also directed the award winning preschool animated series ‘PICME’.
Brown Bag Films
Brown Bag Films are one of Europe’s most exciting, original and successful creative-led animation studios. After 22 years in business, their Dublin-based headquarters continue to produce cutting-edge animation for the international market, bagging numerous awards along the way. These include Oscar® nominations for Give Up Yer Aul Sins (2002), Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty (2010), six Emmy® awards for Peter Rabbit (2014), and a host of BAFTA, Emmy® and Annie nominations for their hit shows Octonauts, Doc McStuffins, Bing and Henry Hugglemonster.