Sir John Manduell, RNCM

Sir John Manduell’s two sons – Julius and David – with the bust

The commission

The bronze bust celebrates Sir John Manduell’s 25 years as head of the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), from 1971. As Founding Principal he brought together two eminent Manchester music schools to establish this world-leading conservatoire. Earlier, Sir John enjoyed a successful broadcasting career with the BBC and later became Programme Director of the Cheltenham Music Festival and founding Chair of the European Opera Centre. He was a respected and commissioned composer.  

The commission was initiated by two members of Sir John’s original team, Bryan Fox and Richard Griffiths, and includes the creation of a unique plinth designed and made by RNCM alumnus Jonathan Stockton – now an internationally collected furniture designer and maker.

The techniques

I was able to draw on photos of Sir John Manduell, and guidance from Bryan Fox, Richard Griffiths and Sir John’s widow, the late Renna Kellaway. It helped to work in the studio with two live models, Barry McGerr and Chris Benefield. I work using traditional techniques, building a strong armature to size, hand-building the unclothed bust first, then sculpting-on the clothing. The mould was made in my studio, then shipped up to the foundry (Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry) for the bronze casting process. It was patinated at Derek Bayley Patination.

The unveiling

Sir John Manduell’s son, David Manduell, unveiled the bust in the main entrance hall at the RNCM on Friday 21 June 2024. It was really heart-warming to receive such warm and touching responses from Sir John’s family.

After the unveiling guests were treated to a wonderful performance of Bach’s Ascension Oratorio and Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor by the RNCM Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir along with Principal musicians from the Academy of Ancient Music.

The bust and plinth were funded by the Ida Carroll Trust. (Photos and video with thanks to the RNCM.)

The project

Commissioners: Bryan Fox and Richard Griffiths, with support from the RNCM and funding from the Ida Carroll Trust

Location: Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester

Unveiling: 21 June 2024

Dimensions: 46.2cm w 32.3cm d 61.3cm h

Bust material: Clay, bronze

Plinth material: oak

Plinth designer: Jonathan Stockton

Funders: Ida Carroll Trust

Models: Chris Benefield and Barry McGerr

Foundry: Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry

Patination: Derek Bayley

Critical eye: Marji Talbot (Art Junction)

Studio technical assistance: Sandra Reeves