Posted by Joe Raine at 19/07/2021 09:29:34
Our exciting new exhibition ‘Mechanical Marvels’ has just opened, so we’ve chosen our featured object to match! This is ‘Trafalgar Lion,’ made by Sam Smith in 1973.
Sam Smith (1908-1983) was a sculptor and toy maker. He trained as a painter and went to Bournemouth School of Art. He is especially well known for his moving models, or automata.
Smith, the son of a steamship captain, was born in Southampton and grew up around boats and the harbour. He was fascinated by liners and enjoyed going to the theatre and visiting fairs. These childhood experiences shaped the style of his work.
Smith had limited success as a painter and so started to work in wood. By the 1930s he had begun making toys. These were sold at a gallery in London where he worked. He also did graphic design work for adverts, greeting cards, cartoons and book illustrations.
During the war, Smith worked at the offices of GTC Redbridge Bailey Bridge Company in Christchurch. He learnt technical drawing skills which he later used in his own working drawings. After the war, Smith returned to making wooden objects. His work was very popular, and he started to supply toys to department stores and other shops.
Smith made and hand-decorated a box for each of his works. ‘Trafalgar Lion’ and its box is currently on temporary display on the 2nd floor of the museum.