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The muse and its maker

Originally published in 2011
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  • Gary Osborne meets the creator of the Ivor statuette and hears the story behind one of the most famous award icons today

 

In case you’re wondering who the two elderly ladies in this picture are, that’s me on the left presenting an Ivor to Hazel Whiskerd who created the statuette in the first place.

Fifty-six years ago, when she was a young art student, Hazel (née Underwood) won a competition to design a new award named after the superstar songwriter Ivor Novello. What she came up with was a solid bronze depiction of Euterpe, the muse of poetry and song. Her prize was £50.

In 1957, Hazel married artist John Whiskerd. When she took his name, BASCA lost contact with her for more than 40 years, until a family friend, Robin Caulkett, spotted my father’s Ivors on my sister’s mantelpiece and mentioned that he knew the artist.

BASCA was thus able to invite Hazel to be a guest of honour at The Ivors in 2000, where she was distressed to find her creation had deteriorated somewhat over the years. The original moulds were lost in a fire in the 1950s and for the rest of the century each new Ivor had been cloned from an old one, gradually losing a little definition with every passing year. So at Hazel’s prompting we set out to restore Euterpe to her former glory, remodelling her on the oldest statuette we could find, kindly loaned to us by Sir John Dankworth who received it at the second Ivors ceremony in 1957.

The Ivor is one of the most beautiful and valuable of all awards and between 1956 and 2011 we’ve presented 1,151 of them to illustrious composers, plus almost as many again to industrious publishers. However, one person who has never possessed a copy of this famous statuette is the lady who created it, until now that is.

Now in her eighties, Hazel lives in a beautiful, isolated cottage in the heart of the Forest of Dean, which my satnav and I recently had the pleasure of visiting to present her with an Ivor of her own.

Apart from designing Euterpe, Hazel Whiskerd’s only connection with the world of music is that her nephew is singer/songwriter Al Stewart. Sadly Al has not yet received an Ivor, but from now on, whenever he wants to take a good look at what he’s missing, all he has to do is visit his auntie.

  •  [First published in The Works issue 31, 2011]
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