I love going to the quarry - such expectancy, excitement, energy. I feel at home there, in heaven there
The visit is to select a piece of stone for a commission I have for carving a Barn Owl - the stone is perfect - it is Tadcaster Limestone and is buttery yellow with charcoal coloured speckling, with a light veining. It is quite daunting when I arrive - there are so many blocks of stone to choose from and I’m tempted to buy large quantities, and lumps much bigger than I need.
I exercise restraint and find some lovely pieces for stock, but continue to search for my Owl piece. I’m handling pieces, turning them and arranging them as if they were the completed sculpture - where does (will) the colour appear, is the speckling spattered in the right way (like owl feathers). In handling, the pieces talk to me and some feel kind, and they are lifted onto my trailer. Finally, I select a lump - it is larger than I need, but the colour and markings are beautiful.
The enormous hole of the quarry is awe-inspiring, I stand against and hug the vast wall of stone and press my back to it, I'm standing on a block as huge, it is damp and smells good and I ask its favour and explain my desires. It gives me strength.
The journey home is a dream - I keep glancing at the stone following me in the trailer, and talk to it and carve it in my mind - working out exactly where the tail and wings will be, and the beak. I enjoy unloading, a clean pallet awaits and the blocks are neatly stacked - my owl piece is hauled onto my workbench.
I handle it, admire it, draw on it and chisel it.