Seeing at first hand the monumental works of ancient civilisations in Egypt, Peru, Thailand and India always fascinated me, as did sailing down the Colorado River through eleven layers of rock in the mile-deep Grand Canyon. Touching stone 2 billion years old – half of earth’s supposed life-time in existence – put things in a different perspective.
After 30 years in professional life, I was reintroduced to stone carving in 2004 at Tout Quarry, a disused mine on Portland, Dorset. There, carving for hours outdoors in the rain, I was absorbed into a timeless world where the mind undid itself into a clear calm light. Simply watching the hands move with the slow and steady rhythm of hammer and chisel across the stone brought such joyful peace and contentment that I have continued carving ever since.
As soon as I realised I needed to learn to ‘do it properly’ in order to progress, another chance encounter led me to the Department of Historic Stone Carving at City and Guilds of London Art School. The two years I spent there, in the noise and dust of the stone yard, wandering in an identity crisis between my professional work and being a student again, were among the most creatively absorbing and enjoyable in years.
I would certainly recommend this course.
I am reminded of an ancient quotation from the Art of the Dance: - “Where the hand goes, there the eye goes. Where the eye goes, there the mind goes. Where the mind goes, there the heart goes. And where the heart goes, there love arises.”
Stone carving for me is like that.
I have discovered a real satisfaction in kinaesthetically feeling my way into the stone and gradually, almost meditatively, releasing and realising the desired object. I intend to continue learning and developing my work, to create beautiful objects in stone for sale or by commission.