Carving has been central to the City and Guilds of London Art School since its establishment in 1879 training wood and stone carvers to the highest level of their craft. Carvers trained at City & Guilds continue to play a crucial role in the majority of carving projects undertaken in Britain and the international nature of the student intake ensures an influence in many other parts of the world. The school also provides an invaluable resource for several major institutions. The workshops of St Paul’s Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral, The Royal Collection and The National Trust all regularly send employees to the School for advanced training in stone carving or wood carving.
The inclusion on the syllabi of drawing, artistic anatomy, figure and portrait modelling and art history re-enforce the teaching of high level carving technique to produce graduates with the skills and the aesthetic understanding of traditional sculptors. This can be of value in itself when creating new work for historic contexts but it is also invaluable in the decision making involved in the restoration of sculpture and complex ornament in collections or as part of the fabric of buildings. The teaching of carving within a traditional arts context make our courses vocationally versatile and our alumni much sought after by private sector employers and major Institutions.
There is a high ratio of staff to students on all courses, generally a maximum of one to twelve. All tutors are well-established professionals (who work on some of the country’s most prestigious projects when not teaching) and divide their time between their teaching commitments and their commercial practices. This ensures that the courses remain both outward looking and highly vocational.
It also ensures a constant interaction with the world of professional carving outside the college.
To further enhance the dynamic and professional nature of the course, 3rd year and postgraduate students are also encouraged to undertake commissions as a part of their course work. The department attracts several commissions each year and provides expertise and direction in this process.
Current student projects include:
- The design and carving of 14 new grotesques for St Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle
- Modeling and carving the head of an angel for the Palace of Westminster
- Four Coats of Arms for the Fishmongers Company
Who are the students?
The students are very diverse in age and experience. The intake often includes cathedral masons and contemporary fine artists but we have recently helped a skateboarding professional, a ballet dancer and at least one flying trapeze artist into a new career. What they all have in common is the ability to develop a “good eye”, an interest in the history of our craft and a great enthusiasm for carving. Whilst the majority of students come from the UK, many other countries and cultures are often represented (e.g. Ireland, Spain, Holland Italy, Bulgaria, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, Zimbabwe and Barbados, Canada and the United States).
What do they go on to?
Former students often find work in leading workshops serving the architectural heritage world and the higher reaches of the antiques trade. Others set up workshops on their own or with fellow students
The School’s Alumni have carried out significant amounts of work on buildings including the House of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Worcester Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, York Minster, the Globe Theatre, Temple Bar, Brighton Pavilion, Uppark House, and many others
New work by former students can be seen in many major public commissions: examples include the Modern Martyrs statues for Westminster Abbey, the Tibetan Peace Garden at the Imperial War Museum; the Lion and Unicorn for the spire of St Georges Bloomsbury and the Statue of Sir Hans Sloane outside the Natural History Museum.
Well known contemporary sculptors who have employed alumni as assistants include: Amish Kapoor; Rachel Whiteread; David Jacobson; and Peter Randal Page.