While I had been kept fairly busy during the early part of the 1970s, requests for play sculptures had virtually vanished towards the end of the decade. However, in December 1980 I did get an urgent call to make something for Wood Green Shopping City. This was a complex under development and due to be opened by the Queen in May 1981 and they wanted a play sculpture before then. Most of my sculptures took three or four months to make, so I didn't have much time.
I decided on a Toad for the theme and produced sketches for a giant Toad and Toadstools for consideration. My scheme was approved and putting everything else to one side I got on with the job, which was delivered with days to spare.
A few months later I got a phone call from an architect in Cambridge, where they wanted two sculptures for the Grafton Centre - one to be a horse and the other up to me. At that time, having quit my employment at the College of Art, I was doing alternative work to generate an income, so welcoming this commission with open arms I agreed to make a Horse and proposed a Tortoise as the companion piece. The other work I had been doing was with long-grained American Ash, a handsome and pale coloured timber, which I chose to use for the sculptures.