Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Digging again

Hey ho hey ho its off to work we go… I seem to be doing lots of this at the moment. pushing holes deep into blocks of stone. Digging. I am not sure how to treat the outer edge. Should it  fold back? Should it have a sharp edge on the rim or a clean inch thick rim? I have left all options open at the moment and will put off the decision until other parts of the carving are progressed further. The rest of the surface will be a smooth transition in and out of the deep recess. The outer edge becomes all the more crucial because of this.


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Crazy stone

It is so difficult to know how to treat an onyx like this. There are a multitude of strata in all sorts of different colours. The overall effect is wonderful but overwhelming. The stone is saying so much I have concluded that it is best to try something very simple. This material also presents technical difficulties as its strata are also fault lines which can split at any time. Although this would spell disaster in a clean coloured marble I am not overly concerned about gluing this stone together as any glue marks are lost in the overall mayhem of colour and fault lines. The stone also varies enormously in its hardness and is therefore tricky to get smooth. Apart from the above however it is a delight. I found it last time I was in Italy and thought it would be fun to try it out. You don’t get much sense of the colours in this picture but just wait until it is polished!


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Italy in the rain

I am just back from a short trip to Italy looking for marble. It was, I suppose asking too much to get fine weather in mid January. The first evening it poured with torrential, monsoon like intensity but luckily for the two days of wandering round stone yards it was dry. I went with my friend and fellow sculptor Paul Vanstone and we bought enough stone to fill a twenty six ton lorry between us. I bought two six ton blocks of fairly ordinary Carrara marble. Unfortunately I was not able to find two tall thin blocks of the right shape and had to settle for buying one twelve ton block and cutting it in half. I say unfortunately as the larger block has more commercial value and is therefore more expensive. The marble will largely travel here by rail which goes someway to assuage my guilty feelings of dragging it across Europe at all. Although the Italian winter was almost as wet as ours, I was warmed by the sight of tangerines growing by the side of the road. I attach a photograph taken from the car window.


Friday, 18 January 2013

Laying blocks in the wet

I do not think it is advised, to lay blockwork in the sleet but I have a hunch that there is no severe cold spell on the horizon that could ruin a newly laid wall. Jordan and I busied ourselves building the blockwork foundations for the new barn. Poor Jordan had cold feet all day and the grey wet damp conditions did little to lift the spirits. You cannot see much in the attached photo as everything is covered from the rain and forecast snow. Imagine however, the sunshine and some grass where you see rain and mud!


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Last day of polishing

I shall put this piece aside now. I like it, am pleased with the way it has turned out. Not all pieces are as interesting as the idea would lead you, or rather me, to believe. The whole thing is about my judgement at the moment of course. Whether anyone else finds the sculpture remotely interesting is quite another matter. For the moment I must rely on my own isolated thoughts to guide me. It would of course be impossible to have input from others as no two views are ever the same.

Jordan worked very hard all day in the cold( but crucially not freezing) wind building the first of the block walls for the new barn.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Fine tuning

I spent the day doing the last details on the current sculpture. The wise words of Michael Black (whom I worked for twenty three years ago) come back to me.

“Spend another day on it boy”!  This had been his comment on my presenting him with a piece of work I thought finished. I was young and impetuous and without the patience to stay with the job until I had got it as good as I could. Today I worried away at numerous little faults. Edges that were not quite sharp, chips that needed to be taken away. I also cut away the footing which had given the piece tolerable stability whilst I had been working on it. It will need pegs into a base of some sort. Meanwhile Jordan made steady progress on the barn footings.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Demolition day

The poor field is now in a real state with enormous matbro tyre marks as I moved lots of marble blocks and scrap wood out there. The whole barn has disappeared as Jordan and I smashed it up. I contacted a scrap dealer who is taking the corrugated sheets away tomorrow. They are all stacked up in a mangled heap. The forks on the matbro helped enormously with the destruction and the ripping off of the old tin sheets. Although the matbro does a quick job it is completely brutal. My neighbour is coming down tomorrow to help landscape the ground and to dig the trenches for the foundations. He is retired but likes a job like this from time to time.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Pulling down the barn

Jordan came today to start work on the demolition of the old pole barn next to where I work. Jordan is 19, full of energy and enthusiasm and great to have around. The old barn is, or rather was, very decrepit with an alarming lean to the south. It has looked as if the first gale would bring it down for at least ten years. The old barn survived all that the weather could throw at it; out of habit perhaps. Today however we gave it a pull with the Matbro and she sank to her knees. Jordan will be back tomorrow to dismantle it and clear the site ready for its replacement. I had a short day on the sculpture as a good deal of time was spent getting Jordan going. The sculpture looks good, particularly from the front. It would be good to feel that it works well all around but it is not the case.


Friday, 4 January 2013

Form forming

I spent a while trying to decide the crucial question about the shape of the back of the sculpture. In the end I have opted for arching the back rather than running the waist all the way round. The shape was becoming too much like a peanut husk. Whenever a sculpture comes too close to the shape of something as instantly recognisable as a peanut, alarm bells begin to ring. The sculpture will always be the one that “ looks like a  peanut”. I may still hear that refrain but in arching the back the form resembles half a sphere with the sides pushed in. This squashing of forms is an idea that I have explored before with interesting results. The original form is gone but the surface area remains the same.


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New year

My first day back at work after the Christmas break. I dragged myself outside into the drizzling rain rather later than usual feeling reluctant to start. Like going back to school. The new work is coming on nicely and I ended the day feeling much more enthusiastic than I started it. The new shelter kept the rain off me all day as intended and the sculpture is at a crucial point. The shape outside is the next thing to be formed. How much waist should it have? Will the lower half be bigger than the upper? Will there be a dip half way down the back? If so, how much? These crucial decisions must be made tomorrow. Shaping the outside is much quicker,of course, than the digging out of the inside which is so labour intensive and unpleasant with the dust kicking up into your face.