Motoring art: Terry Ross

| 19 May 2023
Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Terry Ross

“Every work has to have a story to inspire me,” says Terry Ross, the retired art director turned automotive sculptor.

“I’ve been pestered to do a Cobra for ages, but have always felt the market is flooded with them.

“Then, last year, I bought Dave Friedman’s superb book on Ken Miles and discovered a great shot of his crew holding out a pit board with ‘Teddy Teabagger’ on it.

“The idea immediately clicked of him in action with a trail of teapots and cups in the wake of his Shelby team Cobra. I love researching.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Terry Ross

A trail of tea cups following Ken Miles’ AC Cobra was inspired by a period nickname

Once sketches have sorted out the composition, the modelling begins.

With outline, details and driver carved and shaped in Terry’s favourite medium, Super Sculpey polymer clay, the casting process is taken on by trusted specialist PD Models.

The main pieces are a mix of resin and brass for added strength: “I love doing motorcycle subjects, but with the figure there can be up to 40 parts.

“I still love Formula One, but would get bored if I focused on one area.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Terry Ross

Some figures can often take many hours to finish

Most of his sculptures are wall-mounted on a large board, but to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the BMW 3.0 CSL Terry decided to create something different: “I’ve always liked Alexander Calder’s mobile sculptures of the mid-20th century, particularly the way they move about in the breeze.

“I’ve never seen the BMW Art Cars, but I’m sure the idea that they only race once would disappoint him. That’s how my Wall Flower idea began.

“The car was cast in resin while the petals were laser-cut from aluminium and powder-coated.

“The edition of three is then suspended from invisible wires.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Terry Ross

Terry’s BMW 3.0 CSL artwork features petals made from laser-cut aluminium

Terry offers to help buyers hang these sculptures, but with clients all over the world including Norway, Thailand and Peru, he’s dreading the call to hang one high over a stairway overseas.

Ferraris have been a favourite subject and recently inspired his largest piece, a triptych of the glorious 330 P4 at various stages during the ’67 Le Mans.

Terry has entered the dramatic 120x130cm study for the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition: “I’ve had work accepted before, including a kinetic abstract of Valentino Rossi, but it all depends on who is on the selection committee this year.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Terry Ross

The dragster makes the most of the wall-mounted board with its expanse of colourful exhaust fumes

Terry is also keen to do a Nigel Mansell sculpture based around his Ferrari 640 F1 car from 1989, but is still looking for an idea.

“Russell Bulgin’s 1991 interview might inspire something,” he says. “It’s a great piece of journalism and clearly they hated each other.”

From an young age Terry has been interested in modelmaking, and his early talent won him international contests, including a holiday to America.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Terry Ross

A Ferrari 330 P4 in various Le Mans 24 Hours moments makes for a dramatic triptych

His heroes couldn’t be more diverse, from photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue to cartoonist Dave Bell.

His artistic talents eventually led to Terry doing a graphic design degree at the London College of Printing, but an MA in car design was short-lived: “Drawing doorhandles for six weeks was not my thing, so I went into advertising.

“The modelmaking has never stopped and was the perfect relief after a stressful day as a creative director.”

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