In a small town with a big claim to fame, Dartford, Kent, bronze statues of rock ‘n’ roll icons Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have taken centre stage.
These statues, a tribute to the legendary Rolling Stones duo, were unveiled recently in their hometown. Behind the creation of these striking sculptures is the talented local artist Amy Goodman. In an exclusive interview, she shares her insights into the inspiration, challenges, and emotional journey that went into sculpting these iconic figures.
Drawing Inspiration from the Glimmer Twins
When asked about her initial inspiration for creating statues of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Amy Goodman reflects on the unique charm of these rock legends. She had the creative freedom to depict them at various stages of their lives but chose to capture them mid-performance, radiating the energy and charisma that have made them unforgettable. As she explains, “Although I could have portrayed them at any age, perhaps meeting at Platform 2 at Dartford Train Station at 17 and 18 years of age, where they shared their love of the blues, or sharing memories in more recent times, I strongly felt I wanted to sculpt them mid performance.
“To show that energy and charisma they have when on stage. Jagger strutting, singing, pouting: the most incredible frontman. Keith absorbed in his guitar. Different heights to create a more interesting composition.”
The Significance of “The Glimmer Twins”
Amy Goodman aptly titled her sculptures “The Glimmer Twins,” a nickname that Rolling Stones fans will instantly recognize. This title not only sets them apart from other members of the band but also pays homage to the pseudonym used by Jagger and Richards during the 1970s and 1980s. Goodman shares the fascinating origin of this moniker: “I wanted to find a way to title these very famous Dartford boys in a distinctive way that would separate them from the other amazing members of the Rolling Stones, both from other foundation members to the present day. The Glimmer twins is a nickname that their fan base will recognise. In fact, when it was announced I would be sculpting them earlier this year, some of their fans would message me and say: “How are the Glimmer Twins coming along?”
“It was a pseudonym used on albums in the 1970s and 1980s for this song writing duo, starting with ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (released 1974). Legend has it that the actual name originated on holiday in Brazil in 1969. An older couple travelling with them, trying to figure out who they were asked, “just give us a glimmer’. The name resonated with them.
Capturing Energy and Chemistry
One of the remarkable aspects of these statues is the palpable sense of energy and chemistry between Jagger and Richards. Amy explains her process: “After drawings, I made a scale model/Maquette where I used aluminium armature wire attached to a welded steel stand. That allowed me to adjust the figures and their limbs in a way that conveyed movement before I applied the modelling material.
“Once scaling up to one and a quarter life-size with a strong armature as a base, I think it’s my mark making and textures in the clay that help to convey the figures dynamism. I have intense work sessions where I sculpt fast, helped by listening to their music! Working over both figures, using strong drawing lines running through the work. Surrounding myself with resource materials, photographs, stills from videos. It all helped.“
A Journey to the 1980s
Choosing to depict Jagger and Richards as they were in the 1980s was a deliberate decision by the artist. Amy found the narrative of them returning to perform in their hometown particularly compelling. She highlights that this period allowed for their faces to be more recognizable and distinctive, making the sculptures even more engaging. She said “ I like the idea of the narrative that they have gone away, become famous, and then come back to perform in their hometown. It’s relatively early in their career, but they have already written many of their great and recognisable songs by then. Also, their faces are more recognisable and distinctive, and so much fun to sculpt“.
The Creative Process and Unique Challenges
Sculpting such iconic figures over a 10-month period came with its share of challenges. Goodman describes the importance of research and staying true to her artistic intuition. She candidly admits the pressure that comes with working on a high-profile project like this but emphasizes the need to trust her creative process and maintain a balance between dedication and self-imposed pressure. She said “Along with all the research, which is essential for such a commission, it was also trusting that I must be true to my way of working and sculpt intuitively and spontaneously surrounded by my resource material.
“I obsessively photograph my work during the making process, and this allows me to observe the progression even when not at my studio so that I can make adjustments and changes where necessary. It was also trying not to be overwhelmed by the pressure you can put upon yourself when working on such a high-profile project such as this, and of such recognisable icons“.
Music as a Muse
Listening to the Rolling Stones’ music while sculpting these statues added a unique layer to the creative process. It connected Goodman to their creative force and deepened her appreciation for their extensive catalogue of songs. “It gave me enormous respect for their prowess as a songwriting duo,” she says.
Capturing Essence and Contribution
Sculpting Mick Jagger and Keith Richards meant not only replicating their physical features but also capturing the essence of their artistic contributions. Goodman’s attention to detail, from sculpting Keith’s famous ‘Micawber’ Telecaster guitar to depicting Jagger’s dynamic stage presence, reflects her commitment to honouring their legacy. She added “The stones songs are so distinctive. The influence of the blues, rock, country even, are ever present. Keith’s guitar playing and sound is so distinctive. He had a very special set up. I chose to sculpt his famous butterscotch Fender Telecaster guitar, ‘Micawber’. Gifted by Eric Clapton, not it only did Keith change the humbucker and flip it round, he set it up in open G five string tuning.
“I bought a telecaster to reference, scaled it up and hand sculpted it. I was also able to find images online that showed the distinctive wearing this guitar had so that the fans will recognise ‘Micawber’. Jagger is arguably the best Frontman of all time, in my mind he had to be leaping/running across the stage. His face is so elastic as well, there are so many different ways I could have had him pouting and singing. Hopefully when visitors see them in situ, they will find I have captured their character and essence.“
A Heartfelt Unveiling
The unveiling of the statues was a heartfelt moment, with Keith Richards’ family members present. Amy shares the emotional impact of this experience, saying, “It made it so special. When Keiths granddaughter was stood across from me just before we unveiled the sculptures with Leader of Dartford Borough council, Jeremy Kite, I had to hold back tears as it was a very emotional moment. To have Angela and Ava there, to have their wonderful feedback about my work was wonderful.
“To have the double thumbs up later that day from Keith Richards social media channels as well as the ‘Rolling Stones’ was amazing”
A Diverse Portfolio
In addition to the Glimmer Twins, Amy Goodman’s portfolio includes public artworks of diverse individuals like Florence Nightingale and Sir Stirling Moss as well as the Romsey War Horse and the Gurkha Memorial. She speaks about the challenges and rewards of taking on such varied subjects and how each project pushes her out of her comfort zone. “I really loved it. Being shortlisted at the beginning of last year was so unexpected, yet I thought I had to ‘go for it’, and design something dynamic. There is always a lot of work involved when pitching for a public sculpture commission. You have to be prepared for disappointment, there are lots of brilliant sculptors out there.
“When you get the good news it’s the best feeling in the world, but all the hard work begins, and with it, pressure. I have always loved new challenges however and being pushed out of my comfort zone. “
Inspiring Dartford and Beyond
Amy Goodman’s hope is that her sculptures of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards will resonate with the people of Dartford and visitors alike. She wants them to appreciate her interpretation of these legends, the ‘life’ in the modeling, and the subtle nuances that make these sculptures come alive. Amy went on to say “I hope when visitors approach my sculptures at One Bell Corner, in the round, they appreciate my interpretation of them. I hope they appreciate ‘life’ in the modelling. I hope they see I’ve caught likeness. I hope it makes them smile in a good way.
“Photos don’t tell the whole story; I think you have to view sculptures in situ to really appreciate them. They also change according to the time of day, light, weather, season. I hope they please visitors, their fan base, local people, and inspire the young to go and follow their dreams.“
A Lasting Legacy
The Rolling Stones’ music has transcended generations and continues to shape popular culture. Goodman believes that having public sculptures of these rock icons in their hometown will not only benefit Dartford but also inspire younger generations.
The Exhibition Continues
As an added treat for fans, Amy Goodman has an ongoing exhibition titled ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (but I like it)’ at the Sir Peter Blake Gallery, just a short walk away from the statues. This exhibition celebrates the making of the Glimmer Twins sculptures and is a fitting tribute to the song that marked the beginning of their pseudonym journey.
In closing, Amy Goodman shares her love for the Rolling Stones’ music, highlighting songs like “Gimme Shelter,” “Paint it Black,” and “Monkey Man” as personal favorites. Her sculptures are not just a testament to their legacy but a visual symphony of the impact of music on art.
Visitors to Dartford and Rolling Stones fans from around the world now have the opportunity to see these iconic figures frozen in time, thanks to the artistic brilliance of Amy Goodman. Her sculptures remind us that legends live on through art, music, and the shared love of both.