Liz Middleton

I think what I valued most about the Historic Carving PG Dip was the pace and intensity.  There is so much to do, so much to learn, so many opportunities and avenues to explore. I loved the challenge and found the work incredibly rewarding.

The Art School also has a very particular and special atmosphere like no other, layers of Art School history, unique architectural character, garden oasis and community.  It was inspiring and energising to be surrounded by people with such depth of knowledge, creativity, talent and skill – around every corner there was some interesting material or process to discover.  During London Craft Week I was captivated by a demonstration of Japanese wood carving by master woodcarvers and conservators from Tokyo University of the Arts – this led on to me being able to visit them in their studio in Japan.

What projects and workshops did you work on during your time at the Art School?

As a Post Graduate student, I had freedom to tailor my course experience and made the most of all the diploma projects; drawing, modelling, carving and lettering. I was full time for the first year with support of a Masons Company bursary, and part-time for the remaining two.  Fortunately my part time employer, Heatherwick Studio, was very accommodating and allowed me to fit my work around the timetable.

I think the most surprising experience was the drawing programme which was exceptional in its planning and delivery. I actually didn’t know it was possible to teach drawing in the way Diane Magee does – she opened up a whole new world for me and many other students. The drawing threaded into everything. In particular, drawing drapery at the V&A for five days was a wonderful and eye opening experience and it helped me to win a Taylor Pearce drawing prize!

I was also particularly interested in lettering and we had many four day workshops from different renowned professionals each offering a completely new perspective of the craft; brush lettering, calligraphy, raised letters, drawing directly on to stone, casting with concrete.  Tom Young’s core teaching was drawing and cutting Roman capitals, minuscules and italics, but he covered so much more valuable and practical information in terms of handling and preparing stone, painting and even demonstrated how to install a gravestone in the garden.

In the second year I was lucky enough to be selected to design and carve a new grotesque for St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.  Initially I wasn’t sure there would be enough time for this extracurricular project, but I’m so glad I did it because it taught me a great deal about responding to a brief, presenting my work and most crucially how to carve to a commission!  This led onto being able to complete a sculpture of a pair of pillows and another of a coat – unimaginable before I began the course (and they were also prize winning).

What are you up to now?

Since graduating, I rented a shared carving studio space in London and continue to work part time.  I participated in the creative development programme through the Clyde & Co Art Award, which led on to me forming an Artists Advisory Group for who founded the award.  I was also fortunate to be selected for the annual FBA Futures exhibition from my degree show and this has led onto lots of opportunities and commissions. I’m currently engaged in a number of public art projects, I continue to make work and figure out what it is I do!

Instagram:                                liz_middleton_stone


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