Welcome to STONE – The Carved Form. This exhibition has been a couple of years in the making and a real joy to see it all come together. I have worked as a professional stone carver/mason for over forty years, working on many public and private commissions. The idea for the exhibition first started with the realisation that there was very little in the way of exhibitions of contemporary stone carving in the UK, in particular, within Wales.
The prime concept for the exhibition was to bring to audiences stone carvings made by stone carvers living and working within the UK who have their own distinctive approaches, styles and choice of material. I realised that it was quite a daunting theme and although I have worked in stone for many years that I would only be able to feature certain aspects of stone sculpture.
I have invited four stone carvers whose work illustrates the incredible qualities that different stones produce under the hammer and chisel of creative hands.
Their carvings are born out of a feel for the stone. The outcomes therefore translate the characteristics of the stone itself. Sometimes led by a certain vein or colour shift in the stone can lead the sculptor to follow that characteristic to its- and his - conclusion. At other times more pre-worked out designs will only be achievable by working with the stone and not in conflict with it. It is a partnership between the sculptor and the stone. Each having their part to play.
Light is vital to understanding how a surface is understood. In this exhibition I have included carvings that show the variations in tone, from darker to lighter. The different stones used by the sculptors in the exhibition have various shades through to completely translucent. Allowing the onlooker to experience a small section of the vast variety of different qualities that stone has and how light plays such an important role in its appreciation.
Jude Tucker: Tsura (detail), Rose Alabaster Meic Watts: Hare (detail), slate relief carving
Other considerations in curating the show were to have sculptures of around the same dimension so that all would be given the same level playing field - not one sculpture dominating by sheer scale. Chisel marks left on the sculptures serving as a reminder to the onlooker that these pieces have been made through hard work and effort.
My own approach to stone carving is working intuitively with the material, also referred to as ‘free carving’. My latest body of figurative sculpture has grown from my interest in the subconscious, translating through narrative imagery, whilst at the root remains the simple love of working with stone.
Envelop, Lepine Limestone
In my studio carving Shedding the Skin.
I kept the selected group to a small number and selected three carvings by each artist.
Participants in the exhibition
Tom Clark began working in stone in 1974, first as a monumental mason and then as an ecclesiastical mason serving an apprenticeship at Chichester Cathedral. The influence of this almost classical discipline shines through with his work - however he finds a fullfilment in allowing the material to dictate the developing designs.
Daisy Chain, Portland Stone
With the many myriad forms and material types and influences of the light- I wanted to include the translucence of certain stone types. Alabaster is renowned for possessing this quality if worked with by an experienced practitioner.
Jude Tucker. Tsura, Rose Alabaster
Jude Tucker. Luna Warrior, Clouds Alabaster Belisama, Bardaglio Alabaster
David England's combinations of mythological themes and controlled approach to carving led him to produce his exceptional carved figurative pieces.
Meic Watts trained for a time with sculptor and letter carver Jonah Jones. The inherent qualities of slate make it a difficult stone to work with - prone to splitting and fracturing.
Finally, many thanks to the artists Jude, Meic, Tom and David for showing their work. All the works are superb and I would hope that the exhibition would encourage more interest in the ancient art of stone carving. Further thanks to Charlotte Kingston, Artistic Curator for the Makers Guild Wales, for her support and encouragement in putting this exhibition together. Also a sincere thanks to the Makers Guild Wales gallery for hosting the exhibition and to their team of staff for helping the exhibition’s promotion.