Louis Russell

The Art School was extremely supportive in helping me secure funding for the course, this eased the burden of studying full time in London and meant I could focus efforts on my studies. As a course teaching heritage skills there are many different types of funding and bursaries available. The college offers all the necessary help and information to apply and I’m grateful that they helped me to find funding for every year of the diploma.

The one class that has continued to resonate throughout my career is the drawing element of the course. It is the basis of everything and the quality of the teaching at City & Guilds of London Art School helps prepare you to tackle any subject. However, it is not one particular class but rather the importance that is attributed to all parts of the course, from the theory and history of the craft to the practical skills, that together set you up for a career in stone carving. It gives you the knowledge and technical ability to continue to develop your own practice and approach any project or subject matter with confidence.

The course is well rooted in the tradition of the craft, and the teaching provides a foundation in all of the classical skills associated with carving. This enables you to develop a process that could be applied to any particular project. The tutors are all working professionals and have a different background and approach to their own practice. This is reflected in their teaching and offers a broad and diverse range of experience, methodology and subjects. It is the wide-ranging approach that sets the course apart and provides a skill set that continues to develop and inform your working practice well beyond the three years of the course itself. On finishing the course the college has continued to play an important role in my career with the alumni network providing ongoing support, work and opportunities.

 What projects were you involved in while studying at the Art School?

The college and tutors are keen for students to gain experience in external projects and commissions during the course. I was involved in the project to design a series of replacement grotesques for St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. I also won a competition to design, carve and install a lettering plaque at the Yorke Trust, a small church in Norfolk. This was a paid commission and one I completed during Art School hours with the help and guidance of the tutors.

What are you up to now?

I am a self-employed stone carver and letter cutter. The majority of my work is in stone conservation and restoration, working on projects both on site and in the workshop. I also carry out carving and lettering works to commission.

After graduating I worked part time as an assistant to a sculptor, whilst also completing some carving work that came off the back of the graduation show. The final show was a good opportunity to promote myself and my work and resulted in a couple of commissions. This was a massive help as I was able to continue with my own carving but without too much immediate financial pressure. I also took on a small space in a shared workshop, renting with other stone carvers.


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