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Famous Bafta bronze masks cast ahead of awards show

Finished masks wait to be collected during the hand-made casting of the Bafta ceremony next month (Steve Parsons/PA)
Finished masks wait to be collected during the hand-made casting of the Bafta ceremony next month (Steve Parsons/PA)

With just over a week until the Bafta Awards in London, the event’s famous bronze masks are being cast at a west London foundry.

The trophies are created through a hand-made casting process in west Drayton, where New Pro Foundries has made them since 1976.

Each mask weighs 2.8kg and around 270 are made each year. The casting process takes roughly three hours and only 10 are made each time.

BAFTA masks casting
A craftsman checks the temperature of a furnace during the casting process (Steve Parsons/PA)

The mask was designed in 1955 by US sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe. Born in New York, she read Fine Arts and Fine Arts Education at Columbia and worked in Paris as a sculptor.

BAFTA masks casting
Two unfinished masks are held up to the light (Steve Parsons/PA)

Cunliffe moved to England in 1949 and lived there until 1976, working from her garage in Didsbury, Manchester.

In 1955, she was commissioned by Andrew Miller-Jones of Bafta-forerunner the Guild of Television Producers to make a trophy mask.

BAFTA masks casting
Sand casts are set on fire as they are prepared for the metal to be poured into them (Steve Parsons/PA)

Based on the tragicomic mask of Ancient Greek theatre, the hollow reverse of the cast features an electronic symbol around one eye and a green symbol around the other.

These symbolise Bafta’s links with drama and television technology.

BAFTA masks casting
A finished mask sits by the furnace during the hand-made casting of the Bafta masks (Steve Parsons/PA)

Cunliffe’s unmistakable design is recognised worldwide. She died on December 30 2006 in Oxford.

The awards will be hosted by Joanna Lumley at the Royal Albert Hall on February 10.

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