ROCKPORT — Rockport artist and Camden Hills varsity boys basketball coach Jon Moro, who publicly unveiled a sculpture of David and Goliath in October 2020, unveiled his latest sculpture of Robin Hood during a Saturday, May 29, event at the Rockport Public Library, opting to portray yet another hero.
“As a sculptor I like portraying heroes, whether they are biblical or found in sports or literature,” Moro said. “I was fascinated by how this legend has stood the test of time and has grown over the span of 800 years. While the legend can’t be tied to one person in history, the legend remains as strong as ever. There have been over 20 movies based on Robin Hood made in the last 100 years, on average one every five years. The legend of Robin Hood has endured, been added to, and therefore is still relevant today.”
While working on the piece, Moro contemplated the effect the legend of Robin Hood, a story he has always loved, has had on him and society.
“What I find most alluring about the tales of Robin Hood are timeless virtues: helping those in need, standing up to oppression,” he said. “But there is also an irresistible element of fun! I found that all of my favorite Robin Hood movies had that element of fun. Perhaps the legend is for children, but I believe it has a message also for adults: this is a heavy challenging world at times. There is responsibility, financial stress, and struggle. But Robin Hood is a reminder that fun is alive and is vital. We need to experience an escape from being so serious. Who wouldn’t want to join [his] merry men and live in the woods, enjoying a simple life of adventure with friends?”
In fact, Moro found the story of Robin Hood is still relevant today, particularly amid a global pandemic.
“In the time of COVID-19, amid societal conflict and fear, Robin Hood reminds us to be good to our neighbors, to look out for the weak and needy in our community,” he said. “And remember that at times we all need to laugh, to smile, to escape into nature, and enjoy the company of good friends.”
Three months and more than 50 reference images spanning archery fundamentals, hooded cloaks, boots and arrows were required to create the latest Moro masterpiece.
As usual, Moro begins with a concept drawing, decides on the scale of the piece and then builds a block of wood to carve from.
This piece required usage of an angle grinder (with a carving disc attachment), a Dremel tool with various bits, and lots of sandpaper.
“This project was unique because I had to portray some elements I was unfamiliar with,” said Moro. “I had to build a bow, study the posture of archers, and best of all, make the arrows. “My friend and publicist Teresa Piccari offered me some feathers to create an authentic look for the arrows. I ended up watching a bunch of YouTube videos on ‘fletching’ arrows, and got a real appreciation for the craftsmanship required to produce a quality arrow. It’s not easy!”
Implementing a shooting arrow, an integral part of Robin Hood’s character, yielded several possible options to portray the arrow. Moro narrowed the different versions of Robin Hood’s portrayal down to two: Erroll Flynn’s 1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood and the 2010 Robin Hood version starring Russell Crowe.
“Flynn’s version is a swashbuckling adventure, filled with daring and romance [while] Crowe’s version is also action packed, but it’s more gritty, more nuanced, even a bit glum,” said Moro. “I had to decide which iteration I wanted to depict. In the end, I decided to portray my Robin Hood more along the lines of Flynn's character; therefore giving him a green tunic and a dark green cape.”
Though, Moro conceded if one wanted to be precisely accurate about period clothing, Crowe may be crowned as more realistic.
“But green is a color more closely linked to the character of who Robin Hood has come to represent,” concluded Moro. “Green represents nature, vitality, compassion, and calm. Color is a powerful symbol, both creating mood and reflecting character; so deciding the color scheme was a matter of importance.”
Depicting Robin Hood shooting mid-stride was another intentional decision, noted Moro.
“Traditional longbowman (in a battle), shot their devastating flights of arrows from a stationary position,” he said.
Archers, also, take a similar stance when in competition, Moro noted, as the body is taught as the arrow is pulled back.
“Being able to accurately shoot an arrow when moving required an elite level of skill and dedication,” he commented. “Whether shooting while on horseback, or trying to dash through the woods to avoid the Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin Hood most definitely would have perfected this difficult discipline. He would have shot from all angles, on the run, and in rapid succession.”
Following the lead of his David and Goliath piece, Moro once again allowed his fascination with creating seemingly moving capes and cloaks to be included in the Robin Hood piece.
The cape, overall, “adds an extra dimension for the viewer, making Robin Hood interesting to look at from many angles,” Moro observed.
As for his next piece? For the time being, Moro is busy at work sculpting a few smaller sports-themed pieces in preparation for the summer. A recently completed piece is a 10-inch tall sculpture of former Boston Red Sox player Carlton Fisk, who is on sale and on display alongside other Moro masterpieces such as Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Paul Karyia and Derek Jeter at Leslie Curtis Designs on Bay View Street in Camden.