I recently took a few days out to attend a long weekend of botanical illustration at the wonderful Quirky Workshops, located in the beautiful village of Greystoke in the Lake District. I’ve never liked using watercolours, so thought I would make an attempt to learn how to use them properly, and also try my hand at gouache. Working under the patient tutelage of the super-talented Simon Williams (and fuelled by Annie’s lovely lunches and cakes) it was a pleasure to spend three days focusing only on painting – although by the end I did feel the need to wield something a little heavier than a size 1 paintbrush…. Quirky Workshops run a wide range of craf and art classes – well worth a look.
I recently completed this carving for a client who was very enamoured with the beautiful variety of Georgian carved and cast street names in his local town of Louth, Lincolnshire, as below.
The stone used was Portland, and the letter forms were based very much on a 1800s style designed for printing. I had to modify the style in drawing by condensing the letters due to the limitations of how long and thin the stone was.They were cut raised (see work in progress below), then the raised surfaces sealed with Keim mineral paint before painting with two costs of black enamel. The back was drilled for dowels so the stone can be fixed onto the wall rather than be built in.
This year’s Christmas card is a linocut of atmospheric and beautiful Walesby Ramblers Church in the Linocolnshire Wolds, where I walk our dog some days. Seasons greetings to all!
I photographed this on an early morning when the early autumn light was shining through on of the stained glass windows a couple of weeks ago.
I completed this stone earlier in the year and it was fixed into the floor of Lincoln Cathedral’s south west transept. It’s a large piece (850mm x 750mm ) with an in-laid copper cross (dating from WW2) and inlaid lettering which proved very problematic during cutting due to the soft nature of the Lincoln Redbed which was used. The resin in-fill also caused some staining issues due to the very cold weather experienced in late winter 2018 resulting in the resin taking a long time to set. At the time I wasn’t very happy with it, but a few months after being installed, it’s bedding in nicely.
It’s that time of year again when the children are leaving teachers – in this case their brilliant primary school in Market Rasen. I’ve made some small presents for staff as a small way of saying thank you, using the school logo of the pied wagtail. A delight to be in my workshop (despite today’s 28c heat) as life – well, sculpture conservation to be accurate – is currently taking me away from carving and making at the moment.
Last weekend I spent three days on a busman’s holiday at West Dean College in West Sussex (https://www.westdean.org.uk/study). Set in stunning gardens and beautiful landscape, the college is a leading venue for short courses in the arts as well as conservation (we sometimes send our team to courses from Lincoln Cathedral Works Department).
My course was carving plant forms, with talented and lovely Jo Sweeting www.josweetingsculpture.com. Although I could have attempted to lock myself in my own workshop to carve for three days, anyone who tries to juggle family (or other responsibilities) and work will know in reality that this simply won’t happen – particularly as there is always your paid work on the bench and easel staring at you! Much easier to let someone else cook beautiful food for you and have no other distractions. Below is the start of my piece, carved in Lincoln Redbed limestone – soft to carve and a warm pale ochre colour. As yet unfinished, I might manage to complete it before next year’s course…!
This year’s Christmas card – a simple mistletoe print. All good wishes to you for a happy Christmas and peaceful new year.
Today we fixed a commemorative stone in a local churchyard. When fixing in a cemetery it’s usual for the stone to be laid on a concrete pad. In a churchyard, we usually lay on to earth.
On the right you can see a snapshot of the stone in progress in the workshop, carved from Crosland Hill sandstone.
Below right you can see the stone base being prepared. The stone is carefully lined up with its neighbours and also over the top of the ashes – often a compromise resulting in having to split the difference. A hole larger than the stone is dug to the required depth, then the earth prepared and tamped. Two concrete kerbs are laid down and checked for level, usually with a slight fall to allow for rain water.
Gravel is then added to be flush with the kerbs to ensure that the stone does not remain saturated in the ground.
The stone is then laid in place and the turf carefully replaced. See the finished result in the gallery.
I was recently asked to Lincoln University to demonstrate lettercarving to the British Epigraphy Society, as part of their summer school. This is a group of academics who formed a society in 1996 to promote the study of inscriptions, texts and historical documents in Greek, Latin and other languages. As well as studying the copious Roman inscriptions held in the Lincoln Collection (museum) stores, there was theoretical discussion and practical lessons on how to take a paper cast of an inscription (see image below), done simply using widely available cotton rag paper, water and brushes. As part of this event, I was delighted to be able to talk for an hour on the carving process, then showing the students how to cut, with many of them (including the tutors) having a go themselves. For the record, the process remains very much unchanged for these last 2000 years! www.britishepigraphysociety.org
This month I’m taking part in an exhibition at the beautiful National Trust property Gunby Hall, East Lincolnshire. The Art on the Map group are born out of Lincoln Open Studios, and offer a refreshingly wide range of art and craft from felted clothes and glass and ceramics to metal and stone sculpture, as well as more traditional paintings. If you’re out towards the coast, please drop in – the gardens and cafe (drinks and cake only) are also highly recommended.