Wednesday 9 December 2015

Dropped it

Drat, Blast, Blow, trying very hard not to swear. Bother. Broken beyond repair, what a fool. I even had a little premonition that I was balancing the sculpture in rather a precarious way; but did not listen. Eckhart Tolle says, “ Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it”. Mmm, I am struggling with that one at the moment and cannot face starting again today. When it fell, I held the carving for a moment before letting it go. It was wedged between me and the bench. Why did I let it go? Perhaps I thought it was going to fall on my foot. Drat and double drat!IMG_1262

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Rounding everything

Each form has to have lots of attention to make it look like its own entity. I get a bit obsessed with the significance of this but I do believe that the marble absorbs the attention that is lavished on it. This attention remains for ever,locked in the marble, which is, one of the things that makes sculpture so fascinating to me. There is a dark side of this too as the marble remembers all the rubbish too. Perhaps working on a simple rounded form you might be tempted to be a bit slapdash and persuaded into thinking that it did not matter. I think now that, learning from bitter experience, I am sure that it does matter. Perhaps the sculpture is no more than a vehicle for those feelings.IMG_1261

Monday 7 December 2015

Ring and balls

A new idea. The cylinder in the middle of this ring will be a sphere. A large sphere in a ring of smaller ones. The first bit goes quite fast as I have been chopping away happily. I know however that things will proceed much more slowly now as the space between the spheres will take time and slow careful work. My recent exploration into positive and negative space makes me wonder about the lumpy crescent shape that will arise here. I am not sure if the big sphere will want to be at the bottom or at the side or even hanging at the top. I shall mull over this and hope for some clarity over the next few days.


Wednesday 11 November 2015

Positive and negative shapes

Here is a new line of thought. The shape of the hollow relates to the outer form. I am planning a hole to pierce the hollow from above. I have been enjoying the stage like quality of the interior space. Perhaps because it is a hollow with no connection to the outside world it pulls you into a world apart; like a stage. I wonder if the hole above might drop down light and further encourage this feeling of looking into a little private world.


Sunday 8 November 2015

Block arrives

This is how we unload blocks over 3 tons from a flatbed lorry. Probably not in the health and safety handbook but it gets the job done. My brilliant neighbours Nigel and Rich Colwill help with this tricky task. Thank you both. In this shot the lorry has gone and we are positioning the trailer before lowering the block down. This marble comes from Carrara in Italy. I bought it a year ago and have been waiting for an opportunity to bring it home.The block is now sitting in my yard waiting for inspiration.


Thursday 5 November 2015

Ring complete

I have painted this ring three times to get it to this stage. I do this in order to ensure that the whole surface has been worked over at each grade of finishing. First the tarmac like 40 grit which is very aggressive and then more paint before working over the whole surface once more with a 60 grit. Finally the process is repeated with the 120. Small specks of paint remain here and there which will need a few hours to tidy up. This ring is made from the central section of a giant ring. The small block in the background is the centre of this one. I shall use that next. Tomorrow I receive a block from Italy which has been sitting in a yard out there for a year waiting to be brought home.


Monday 26 October 2015

Chopping out diamonds

With the clocks going back the working day ends in darkness. I quite like this as the sculpture takes on a different perspective under the glare of a halogen light. This piece is gradually taking shape and although the exact shape of the individual segments is not fully realised or even determined, I am certainly liking the way it is beginning to look. IMG_1123

Thursday 22 October 2015

Hundreds of lines

I started the day wrapping bailer twine around this ring to try and mark out the pattern. After much winding and unwinding of miles of string I gave up on the string and started to draw the lines freehand. This is very tricky and took me all day. Lots of scrubbing out of lines as they failed to meet the ones coming from the other side. Most frustrating but the pattern is on the marble and I have begun to etch out the lines with the disc. I am itching to see how the pattern will look.


Monday 12 October 2015

Ring in the dark

I have started a ring along the same lines as an earlier version but with the discs getting smaller and slighter as they rise. The evenings are drawing in and the photo taken at dusk is slightly dull as a result. I have been to London to visit my gallery which has joined forces with a gallery from South Africa called Everard Read. They are calling the new enterprise Circa. I hope this will be a happy union and generally feel very optimistic about it as Everard Read have been around for over a hundred years and have a great reputation and global reach. The date for my exhibition with them is now set for the beginning of April 2016.


Tuesday 22 September 2015

Fresh start

I have put aside the complicated swirling ring and have begun something fresh. This time a ring that is not round like a ball but perhaps round like a pebble. This sculpture will be simple but hard to get right. After the complexities of the last sculpture it will be good to get immersed in something like this. I am not quite sure where I go from this beginning and am hoping that the new day will bring clarity.

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Friday 18 September 2015

Getting there

I have been away in Italy looking at robots and more importantly the people that operate them. This is for a possible commission…. Now home again I am determined to get this sculpture looking right. I remember when doing my 100 DAY series where each carving needed to be completed in a single day that there were some carvings that struck me as awful half way through the day. What was interesting was how often it was possible to rescue the situation. I think had I not decided to exhibit all 100 carvings I might well have given up on some. Although I have felt wobbly about this carving I am pushing through to the end and am beginning to feel that it may be worthwhile after all. The carving is very difficult to get looking neat as there are places inside that are very hard to reach.

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Tuesday 8 September 2015

Twist again

This is painstaking work. Dozens of spirals all needing lots of careful work. Unless the forms become really animated then they will certainly just look a mess. They may still look a mess of course but I am reckoning they might add up to something interesting. We shall see. Warm and dry days in September are a real treat.

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Thursday 3 September 2015

Donut and starry skies

This is picking up on the idea of wrapping the swirling pattern around a sphere. Here I am trying to wrap it around a donut form instead. The high and low points are being cut out with this drill. This is just as I did with the sphere and it seemed to work quite well. This is one of those ideas that is a little hard to visualise before the sculpture is made. I don’t know if it will work. I do like applying a set of ‘rules’ however and then letting it play out. The piece of plywood that the blue drill bit goes through is to help get the bit started in the right place. Each new hole required moving the plywood. Quite a task.

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Sunday 30 August 2015

Plywood mock up

I have been diverted from marble for a time to try to erect a structure to help some clients visualise a possible sculpture. The proposed sculpture in marble is a twisting stacked form shape. The complete shape would be almost impossible to make in wood and so, after much cogitating, I have come up with a shorthand version. Hopefully this structure once installed in the clients landscape will give some idea as to how the proposed sculpture might look. I think that the scale and volume will certainly be made clear. The picture here shows the structure at night. I am projecting an image of the proposed carving onto the plywood. Only the right hand side could be transposed from the projection as the image distorted as you can see. The projector was precariously balanced on two tables on top of a neighbouring barn roof.


Thursday 16 July 2015

Pregnant Woman

The mother and child piece was indeed a struggle but an enjoyable one. I have quickly moved on following the same theme to some extent. This carving is working quite well I think. The forms are necessarily bold as we have already discussed and I like the influence that this is having on my carving. Sometimes I think too much and end up drowning in doubt. I am anxious to plough on without delay as I am enjoying this little avenue of exploration.  The colour changes here are considerable and might interfere too much with the carving if the finish is highly polished. I shall have to see how it looks.


Tuesday 7 July 2015

Drowning but waving

As I suspected this piece is completely out of control. I am floundering around; winging it. I remember one of the revelations of my 100 day series ( 100 carvings taking one day each) was the ability I found within myself to turn a bad idea round. Some ideas were frankly weak but as I was to exhibit each day I had to push on and try to make the best of every carving that was started. I feel I am in similar territory here and am quite enjoying the uncertainty of it all.

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Friday 3 July 2015

Out of my depth

I must have had a rush of blood to the head as I have started a mother and child. My neighbour gave birth yesterday and I think that news coupled with the horror happening in Tunisia made me turn towards this subject. Comfort sculpting. I have been aware all day that I am going to get into deep water here. Pushing around a torso is so simple in comparison. Still something interesting might happen. I am thinking of Romulus and Remus suckling from the she wolf as I look tonight. You probably can’t make much out yet. I am curious as to where this will lead..

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Thursday 2 July 2015

Bouncing light

I could not resist putting a little wax on this at the end of the day (despite having promised not to). Difficult to see, but even harder to photograph. Outside, with light arriving from everywhere the forms almost disappear and it is only when the light is falling in this dramatic way that the forms stand out. I think that this material might be a good tonic for me as I sometimes feel my approach to be timid. Timidity with Onyx is clearly no good at all. You are forced to be bold.IMG_0385

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Exaggeration forms

This has been interesting. I carved the figure and then pushed in all the hollows and areas that should be dark in order for the form to become visible. The breasts become rather pneumatic but I think it is beginning to work as a whole. I am reminded of Epstein’s Jacob which was also carved in an Onyx I think. His figuration was super bold there too, perhaps I now understand why. I threw a bucket of water on it and the surface became super shiny and probably what it could be polished up to if I tried to get the ultimate finish. I do not think I want that.


Tuesday 30 June 2015

Onyx version

It is funny stuff Onyx. I have never really felt at home carving it. For one thing it does not carve very nicely like a marble or a limestone. It behaves more like glass than stone. It rings like glass too, when you hit it. The other thing to understand about onyx is the translucence. Marble will let a little light into it but not like Onyx. This means that ( I am beginning to work out) the sculptural approach needs to be radically different in order to compensate for these changes in material. Up to now I have not felt I have had much success. I am trying a similar carving to the walking figure and trying to make the approach suit the material. The surface is rough at the moment so the translucence does not really show.


Monday 29 June 2015

Walking figure

I have completed the little figure. There is a gentle twist on the torso and hopefully looks as if she is striding along. There is so much to consider when carving a figure. I find myself tempted to get involved in detail but it can often undermine the whole. There are creative decisions to make constantly which makes it a quite different process from carving something abstract where the labour of removing stone can be technical rather than creative.IMG_0368

Thursday 25 June 2015

Walking figure

Here I am back at the figure. I often carve a small torso when lost creatively. I think perhaps it is like a pianist practicing scales. I have carved dozens of such little torso’s and never tire of them as they remain an enigma for me; a puzzle I never manage to solve. Although nominally figurative I am only following an understanding I have built up and know that it is the belief that brings power rather than any closeness to the figure. Does the surface ring with conviction, or is it dead in parts? Here I have the figure walking, with the shoulders swinging one way and the hips the other. I do not suppose she will look like she is walking but something is added all the same. I put a pin up her leg this evening in order to stand her up. More work tomorrow, she looks very heavy at the moment.


Monday 22 June 2015


Many days spent cleaning up this piece. Although not quite there yet my poor fingers are worn pink and the nails on my thumbs flat on the inside. Slightly before time therefore I decided to put the sculpture on it’s base. The sculpture is on the floor so it is easier to drill and a hose is needed to keep the drill bit from getting too hot. I assembled the gantry over the sculpture as it is too heavy to lift by hand. I think I like this idea although I also feel it is time to move on into pastures new.


Monday 15 June 2015

Ring 3

This is the same idea as before but with a smaller hole in the middle. This will change quite a lot as the banding will vary in size to a much greater extent. You can see already the size on the outside. This is Italian marble from Carrara; much cooler visually than the Portuguese marble. Lots of chopping out tomorrow.IMG_0365

Thursday 4 June 2015

Fine tuning the three forms

When I eventually burst through from one side of the carving to the other I found the individual forms no longer looked very regular. I have been working and turning and working and turning all day. The amount of material removed has been gradually going down and the forms becoming slowly smoother and more regular. I don’t know if it will matter to anyone else but these little changes seem to make a great difference to the overall impact.


Tuesday 2 June 2015

Triple form begun

I am following up an old line of interest. There was a carving a little while back with smooth forms in a ring. Here there are just three forms arranged in a triangle. I will break through between them as a hole is always a revelation. I initially thought of standing this carving on one of the forms but now think two might be better. One form might end up looking like Mickey Mouse as well as being top heavy. IMG_0360


is it working?

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Vincent’s stars

These patterns are really taking shape now. They are tending to be fairly large grooves as the marble chips off at any fine work where the grain is running in the wrong direction. I often find that the stone dictates the form to some extent. Here it seems to be saying that the hills must not be too proud. I am happy to listen and to flatten them a little. I am reminded of Van Gough’s night skies. The golden firmament seen from the outside rather than from within.


Sunday 10 May 2015

Getting lost

I have forgotten how the pattern goes on these forms. It took me half an hour to work it out again. I thought that the swirls changed direction as they come off a hill and descend into a hollow but they do not. The pattern is just beginning to take shape here and will take a lot more working up next week. I am encouraged by what I see so far.IMG_0105 - Copy

Thursday 7 May 2015

High points and low

I got the ball pretty round in the end. I cut out a form in plywood to scrape over the surface. With paint applied to the form it comes off on all the high spots. I don’t claim that it was perfect but as the only part of the present surface is the high tops of the hills it was not necessary to get the surface any nearer to perfection. I have marked out the rings that will go on to form the high and low mountains and valleys.  I still cannot be sure this sculpture will be a success but am anxious to find out.


Wednesday 6 May 2015

A ball to start

I realised this morning that I have no clay that does not need lots of work to get it into a workable condition. I decided to try the idea out directly in marble. The first thing is to make a ball. Very difficult to do. As you can see I have made it round from two directions. Tomorrow I will work on the third dimension. I ended the day by gluing the pin that will hold the sculpture up once it is finished. This will be helpful whilst I am working on it too.


Tuesday 5 May 2015

A new idea

The birth of something new does not look like much yet. I have had feedback that my maquette looking like a figure of eight on it’s side might be too imposing in the suggested position. This is tricky as I spend most of my time trying to make sculptures that have lots of impact and that are striking to the eye. Here it seems we need something more gentle with less immediate impact. I am thinking of a form broadly spherical. The outline produced will be more gentle than the ‘eyes’ that goggle from the previous idea. The surface idea I have is one borrowed from an old sculpture of mine involving conical hills and conical valleys. The nails you see here mark the tops of the conical hills. I will apply clay tomorrow. The wire is to try and stop the clay falling off.


Wednesday 29 April 2015

Photographed works

Pooch came and photographed the two new carvings. He also placed them in the proposed landscape on photoshop. I am delighted with the way they look and think they would be wonderful on a larger scale. I found this slab of Portuguese marble for the base. The surface is a natural fissure in the marble and there is some rust staining and a gentle undulation that works brilliantly with the carving.


Thursday 16 April 2015

Maquette for larger sculpture

I have been working on a couple of small sculptures and here is the second of them. The idea is to make these sculptures on a small scale and to then place them in the landscape using Photoshop. In the landscape they will be shown full size at several meters long. If the client is interested we might then have the maquettes scanned and full sized models made  in a foam of some sort. I have not done this before but it seems sensible and worthwhile if the client is at all unsure. This sculpture is a technical challenge as the area between the volumes is very tricky to reach and still requires considerable work.

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Wednesday 18 March 2015

Bird form emerging

I am beginning to really enjoy this now and have forgotten my frustration over the aluminium. The belly is curling upwards and will resolve in different ways on either side. The resemblance to a whether vane cock is clear and I remain unclear as to weather I should embrace this or not. I think probably I shall move a little further towards abstraction with the completion of the unfinished end but perhaps I will feel differently tomorrow.


Tuesday 17 March 2015

The Art Room fundraiser

A short deviation from carving stone. I have been asked to create something for a charity auction for a great cause. The project appealed too. They provided an aluminium and wood chair to make something from. Each participating artist has been given a chair to ‘work on’. I spent ages getting angry with the aluminium legs. I tried chopping them and bending them but broke everything and wore out dozens of cutting discs. I tried welding it but failed to make any thing but a mess. I have now given up on the legs and am using only the wooden components. I am much more at home with wood so give myself at least half a chance of making something interesting. There is not much wood so I am cutting everything very thin. All the resulting objects are to be hung in Selfridges atrium in London which should be quite a sight.IMG_0426

Thursday 12 March 2015


It took a long while to stand the sculpture vertically yesterday. I was glad however to get a chance to have a good look at it in that position as I realised that I had been a little timid with the cutting out of the slots. Today I re-cut most of the slots, pushing them another half inch deeper on each of the twisting facets. I can see already that there is now a lightness that was not there before. Much better. The marble has a very subtle shifting coloration running through it hard to see here but quite evident especially when wet. No two blocks are alike I suppose, just like people.IMG_0422

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Standing now

A bit of a jump from my last post. That long thin block is now worked into it’s twisting segments. Here I am fixing it to it’s base. A stainless steel sleeve is glued into the sculpture and a stainless pin sticks out of the base. Whilst the glue is setting I can move the carving around to ensure that the carving is perpendicular by the time that the glue goes off. You can see that my gantry is not tall enough to lift such a tall sculpture and it is held up with blocks. Very bad practice! Naughty boy! It would be a good idea to make some extra long legs for it sometime.


Thursday 5 March 2015

Commission started

Actually I have been working on this for a few days and removing quite a bit of excess material. Here you see the block as it arrived from Portugal before I had begun any work. On the far left there is a very strong vein which whilst not a crack does tend to represent a weakness. I removed this to make sure that it does not give us problems later. The carving is just under three meters long and will eventually stand vertically.


Off to Malvern

Four new sculptures have gone to an exhibition at my old school. Here is the large Portuguese ring (now called Corinth) on its Kilkenny limestone base. I think I will do a larger version of this carving at some point. I really think the markings here are beautiful.

Corinth low res

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Twists roughed out

Marble from Portugal is a much nicer material to work than the exotic black marble of Tunisia. I am happy to be working it once more. The twisting forms are coming well but like all the others needs a good deal more finishing. The finishing will not only get rid of unsightly scratches but finalise the forms themselves to give them their crispness.IMG_0359

Monday 16 February 2015

Twizzling pillar

I have been so enjoying the twist on the rings I have decided to employ the same twist on a simple vertical form. I thought of various alternative shapes. I was tempted to give the form some ‘belly’, but in the end withdrew from such a move towards figuration, opting instead for a form that simply gets a little more slender as it rises. We shall see if it is interesting or not. Sometimes the only way to be sure is to make a sculpture. There is always a gap between the imagined idea and the reality; the question is, how big a gap?The sculpture is standing vertically in the picture in order to drill the hole on top. I now have all my Portuguese marble in the yard. Nigel and Rich who farm next door helped me to unload the two last blocks. They are wonderful neighbours. Thank you both.


Friday 13 February 2015

Sumptuous to look at

Horrible to work though. Perhaps I am just used to working marble but this Tunisian black is no fun to work with. The dust it gives off is like talc; very slippery and smooth to the touch. I think there is something abrasive in there too however as sandpaper goes blunt very fast. Grumble grumble. The end result however might make it all worthwhile as it is beginning to look lovely. The picture makes it look almost complete but there are thousands of scratches to remove and hours of wet and dry work to do. My lorry load of marble arrived from Portugal today.We unloaded the two five ton blocks up at the farm and the remaining eight blocks with the telehandler. I managed to lift a block weighing 3.68 tons and to get it up into the field. The steering was very light but we made it. Brave machine!


Tuesday 10 February 2015

Tunisian black marble

This has been rather a frustrating day. I have started to work this lovely block of marble. A marble I have never used before. As soon as I started to try and cut it however my blade went blunt. In horror I rang my friend Jonathan Loxley who bought a block at the same time and he was mystified by my problem saying that “it works quite well”. I put the block back in the field and went in for lunch, fed up. After lunch I went and visited my supplier of blades who told me that the blade was not ruined (phew) but ‘blinded’ or ‘clogged’ by the stone. He sold me a new blade which he told me would not clog. I made much better progress in the latter half of the day on a new ring. Although the marble here looks quite white, it actually polishes almost black with strong white veining.IMG_0324

Monday 2 February 2015

Ring form

This is really taking shape and I am enjoying the forms here. They take shape quite fast but the endless delicate spaces in between will take days to get right. Today was cold; never getting much above freezing. A sprinkle of snow this morning had the children shrieking with joy. On going out to work I wrapped up well against the cold but as it was still, I soon warmed up and removed my heavy coat. I glued this ring on its base although there is quite a bit more to do on it. I want to see it standing so that I can get a proper look at it and perhaps think of the next ring. I think there might be several. This ring has lots of colour which does not show here as the surface is still rough. When cleaner the colour will shine through.


Thursday 29 January 2015

New ring

In have turned my attention from huge sculptures for the landscape at Heligan to smaller more intimate works. I have to try to shed the disappointment of them deciding against the exhibition and work on, in a positive frame of mind. This new series will enable me to try out some ideas for carvings which might well work nicely on a larger scale at a later date. Everything fell out of the sky today. Hail and snow followed by fierce winds that made me look nervously behind me to the straw bale building as if I might see bales fly past in the gale. I made good progress with the ring and begin to think about different ways that they could configure. I like the form, it seems like a good canvas to work on.


Tuesday 27 January 2015

Core removal

I am getting clogged up with marble here. I have spent the last few days drilling out the centre of this five ton block. I want to eventually make a ring form from it and will come back to it soon. In the meantime however I must get this block moved so that I can make way for a huge shipment that is due any day. As you can see, this block weighed 4.46 tons before the core was removed; too much for my machine! The marble is arriving from Portugal and will be unloaded with a Hiab on a lorry. There are a couple of blocks that will be immovable once they are put down and as such I am keen that they should be put in the right place.

The exhibition at Heligan is on hold, and I must now turn my attention to smaller works instead of these large sculptures for the landscape.