This exciting commission was delivered recently and will have been set into the floor by the Abbey’s own stonemason ahead of a gathering to remember Wesley Carr, the previous Dean of Westminster who passed away last year. It’s exciting to have a piece set into the fabric of the building, now part of the building itself and with an eclectic set of neighbours also set in the floor. Prominent poets, scientists, politicians, musicians and so on. It’s an interesting place to visit as a lettercutter.
I recently made this piece for a private garden in Norfolk.
The client saw my work in an exhibition in Houghton Hall, run by Norfolk by Design. The process of making such a piece is very laborious, as the stone is really hard. This makes is more rewarding in a way, and the hardness of the material is beneficial in terms of durability and frost resistance. It also me and the material can be polished to give very different surface tones and texture, which is something I like to explore. Here are a few images of the various stages. Special thanks to my assistant Dan Meek for his expertise (see video at the bottom) and our local hero Steve Cooke of A&B Clark, whose expertise with moving stone is invaluable.
I was working in Kimberley church in Norfolk this week, adding some lettering to a large marble plaque, and was very taken by this wonderful 17th century floor plaque……
HEARE LIETH ANN THE WIFE OF EDMVND WODEHOUSE OF EAST LEXHAM ESQ THE ONELY CHILD OF JOHN ANGVISH OF GRAT MELTON ESQ AN OBEDIENET DAVGHTER TENDERLY LOVING WIFE & MOTHER AND A DISRETT MISTRESE DYED THE 28 OF JULY ANNO DIMMIN 1685
There are several interesting elements to this – firstly the spelling stands out. Clearly, language has evolved in the last 333 years, but there may have been some ‘freedom’ or lack of clarity as to the correct spelling even then. I have seen some of these variants before (such as HEARE, ONELY) but GRAT (for Great) and OBEDIENET seem quite Chaucerian. I particularly like ANNO DIMMIN (for Domini) and DISRETT MISTRESE ~ is that a discreet mistress? I think it may be ‘District mistress’ some sort of role in society, but I can’t get any further than that by searching online. I welcome any comments on this.
As for the lettering style, I think it’s gorgeous. It is linear and mono-weight (no variation in weight such as you would see in brush-derived letterforms like Roman or calligraphic lettering). I particularly like the H in HEARE, the lush W’s, the X, the C in CHILD, the D in DYED, T in TENDERLY, the J in JULY, the 5 and those lovely little triangles above the (upper case!) I’s. Also the ligatures (where letters are joined as in the first THE) are delightful and the A’s are interesting – where they start the word they are embellished with a flourish, but within a word they’re simple.
I made this yesterday, it’s some kind of imported sandstone. I’m not sure how much I like it…. I had an ancient mesoamerican carving in my mind, but this is not as nice. What do you think? I know it’s derivative, but it’s also a bit timeless and spontaneous….
London design fair coming up, it’d be nice to see you there
I made a couple of bowls over the weekend. One is Carrara Bianco marble, the other is a really nice piece of Welsh slate. These were both inspired by an exhibition at the SCVA (Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts) called FIJI, Art and Life in the Pacific. Among this incredible collection of artefacts (the largest collection ever shown) were some lovely bowls.
My bowls are more chunky, especially the legs on the Welsh slate one. As slate is a laminated material, I couldn’t make them thinner without risking them snapping off. This one showed amazing colour when rubbed. Here’s a few pictures…..
We’re on a road trip, transporting work from Dorset to Cambridge. This gave us a chance to take up an offer of accommodation with a fellow stone enthusiast, Martin Green, archaeologist and farmer.
He lives near Sixpenny Handley, in Cranborne Chase. He said “if you are passing pop in and say hello, you could see my collection of bits and pieces”. Well he wasn’t joking. He had an amazing collection of archaeological finds, fossils, stones and tools. He also lives on a farm with a lot of important sites on it. We had the guided tour. There’s a lot of information here if you are interested. He has given permission to Southampton University to undertake digs on his farm. It was a fascinating overnight stay with a lovely man. His book all about FLINT (and his ongoing love affair with all things flinty) will be coming out soonish, and will be really interesting. Here’s a few pictures….. starting with one of a pond barrow he uncovered on the farm.
I’ve been asked to carve memorials with trees on them a few times now…..each one is a challenge and quite unique.