Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Wild Boar

The preview of my exhibition at the Hield Gallery, Bishop Monkton was held on Friday evening - it was balmy warm and the gallery and courtyard looked magical.  A big thankyou to everyone involved with the preparations - it made me very proud to be there.

This was a joint exhibition with David Winfield, whose paintings are inspired by the North Yorkshire landscape - perfect environments for my Wild Boar, two carvings in Yorkstone, which were part of the show.

Wild Boar are the subject of such wonderful mythological tales, achieved cult status for the Celts and there was even a Roman tribe in Northern Britain called Orci - 'people of the boar'.  There was an Irish hermit who kept a pet white boar, they are represented on coins, helmets and adornments and became the symbol of hospitality and feasting and represented skills in hunting and war.  Of course this is not surprising as they were running wild in Britain at the time, and it seems they are becoming part of our countryside again as there are re-introduction programmes running.

For me they hold a great fascination, they seem very ancient and very wild and I am working on realising a life-size Wild Boar sculpture - just at the sketching stage at the moment.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Stone Sculpture Demonstration

As part of the National Parks Week I will be demonstrating carving and sculpture methods at the launch day at the Moors Centre, Danby.  This is an opportunity to celebrate how the stunningly beautiful North York Moors is fundamental to and rich inspiration for my work.

This is a week packed full of events - on Sunday 25th July as part of the 'Inspiring Landscapes Inspiring People' I will be demonstrating my sculpture practice, and everyone has a chance to participate.   Also demonstrating will be painters, photographers, a silversmith and textile artist.

Meet the Artist - on Wednesday 28th July - I will be talking about my work and inspirations at the 'Inspired By .... Gallery', Danby.

For more details about the events The Moors National Park Centre, Danby.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


This is a wonderful exhibition - National Exhibition of Wildlife Art - and I was very pleased to have a piece selected for the show.

In the small beck which runs through my workshop yard, I have families of voles and the banks are pitted with their burrows.  I had seen one scurrying, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a water shrew.  I was captivated and watched it scrabble around under water with its nose rootling the sediment.  They move so fast it is difficult to keep up.  I did sketches at the time and decided to carve a shrew in a lovely piece of Cornish Soapstone - Polyphant which I had in the workshop.

This stone is a soft metamorphic rock and is easily worked with hand tools and carves well.  It has beautiful colouring which is brought to life when polished

So my Soapstone Shrew was accepted for the exhibition, and currently sits alongside lions, leapards, lapwings and a myriad of other wildlife - that is in paintings, prints and sculpture.  

Another sculptor at the exhibition who also works in a Cornish stone is Lawrence Murley who carves exquisite lizards and frogs in Serpentine.  The exhibition is well worth a trip for these alone - Gordale Nursery and Garden Centre, Burton, Wirral.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

It is about Sculpture!

Recent visitors to my blog might be thinking it is a 'wildlife watch' and nothing to do with sculpture.  However, for me wildlife is such a strong influence and inspiration for my work, that it is intimately connected with each day.  The carryings-on, just within the environs of my workshop, are largely my subject matter and I have to concentrate and be quite intense in my watching and looking - in the hope that I might convey something in my sculpture of a 'likeness' and 'liveliness', and that it resonate in some way with the joy and excitement I feel in my encounters with nature.
Stoats have featured highly over the last few months and these two are carved in Yorkstone - a fine-grained sandstone (my favourite stone to work) which is finished smooth.  So, after getting the detail with the chisel, there is lots of rubbing down with sandpaper - the stone is harder than my finger ends!

They are currently being shown at the summer exhibition 'Hand and Hammer' at the Saltbox Gallery in Helmsley.

Monday, 12 July 2010


This morning I saw nothing at the pond.   Later during the afternoon we had rain and I was so relieved - at least it was enough to make a puddle or two.  After I had finished at the workshop this evening I went back, to find adult moorhen enjoying the dampness.  I had not been there long when one of the birds alarm called and dashed for cover, and then took off in flight.  I only just caught it on camera.  Then the other birds flew off.

Then I saw the culprit - in an out of the reeds at the pond edge and scampering across the mud.

There was no sign of the egg, or the dead chick I saw yesterday, but plenty tracks. 

The stoat caught wind of me and disappeared.  I waited for some time, and heard Moorhen calls, and thought I heard chick noises, but cannot be sure.  A nearby tree hosts a sparrow-hawk nest and the young make constant calls, and birds mob the parents who yell in reply.  The odds seem rather stacked against this little chick - though I am keeping fingers crossed.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Hoping For Rain

It has been so hot and dry that a local pond has completely dried up.  I have never known this before.  Earlier in the year the moorhens bred there and a duck family, and although the water was low, they all thrived.  Yesterday I was amazed to see a tiny moorhen chick on the parched mud.  Just one.  It was calling loudly and out in the heat on its own.  This must be from a second brood.

Eventually a parent bird appeared and they moved into the reeds.  I scanned the pond and found a nest, with an unsuccessful egg nearby. 

 And a bit further away was another, sort of make-shift nest and a chick, but unmoving.  Did it perish due to the dry and heat?  I felt a bit sickened and worried and sent out a plea for rain. 

 I had to look up what moorhens eat, (RSPB) - water plants, seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, snails and worms - apparently the parent bird feeds the young chick to begin with but presumably they will be in need of water.  I will have to keep checking on this family. 
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