Sunday, 20 March 2011

Inspirational Sculpture

Some days I find sculpting more of a challenge than usual.  I just don't seem to be able to get the look I want.  Often I take myself off for a good brisk walk, to clear the head, and come back to the stone with fresh eyes.

There are times when nothing seems to work and I despair of my ability.  A little while ago I was working on a commission and got 'stuck'.   For some reason I found it impossible to get the 'liveliness' that I wanted and I worked round and round with the chisel, taking off a little at a time to test the way, until I had only a tiny covering of stone left to get it right.

I put my chisels down and set about working out where I was going wrong.  I thought about it over the next few days, and it started to become a bigger and bigger knot, the more I thought, the more impossible a solution seemed.  So I tried not thinking about it.  Worse still! 

It seemed to be too complicated.  So I went back to basics, and looked at some of man's earliest mark-making in stone.  I found some fascinating examples, but what struck me most were the Fish Gods of the Danube.

These stone heads, with fish-like features but no bodies were carved in about 5000 BC by Stone Age men living in a settled community at Lepenski Vir, in what is now Yugoslavia.  The settlement was on the banks of the Danube, and the river probably provided the settlers with much of their food.  The carvings are thought to represent Fish Gods revered by the settlers.

To me they are so powerful and strong, full of energy and spirit and yet quite simple in form.

There in a moment, I had it, I was trying to be too clever and complicated in my carving!  What I needed to do was carve with the feeling, meaning and purity that I felt the Stone Age men did.

Immediately I carved myself a Fish God copy, to try and know what it was to produce the icon - it doesn't match the brilliance of the originals, but I keep it at the workshop as a reminder that I must carve with my own spirit and must keep in simple!


  1. Lovely work, wild boar appeal to me, we have them here around in the forests.
    There is some wonderful stone carving at Autun cathedral. I keep meaning to do a post about it. Then you must know Kilpeck church in Herefordshire,near where I lived before. Again lots of animal stone carving.
    I'm off to Dijon Friday to have a day out. It has a little stone owl carved onto the cathedral where you can touch it for luck, maybe this will happen to one of your sculptures one day. Anyway I look forwards to keeping up with your progress.

  2. Jane, I hope you do a post about Autun Cathedral - and I don't know Kilpeck (so have something to look into). I hope you return with lots of luck!

  3. Just popped over to say hello after you have signed up to be a Follower of my blog. Thank you.

    I can remember a lecture involving the fish sculptures at Lepinski Vir - you have taken me back.

    Then Jane Aston mentioned Kilpeck, a church I know and love (my interest is the carvings too - my special interest being the symbolism of the Picts.)

    Off to check out Autun Cathedral now . . .

  4. Good to meet you Bovey Belle, hello!

    Isn't it just fascinating all the little journeys we're taken on from another's blog entry - I love all the stories and introductions to new things. There you go, I must now have a little peek at Pictish symbolism.

  5. I love reading your blog! I was feeling so stilted,and now I am insprired to carve again. It's great to read about other peoples creative highs and lows, many thanks for sharing your process:>)

    1. Thanks Lucy - do keep in touch - it is always lovely to talk stone!

  6. Thank you Jennifer for mentioning Lepenski Vir & Yugoslavia! Now that part of Yugoslavia is part of Serbia. This year we are permanently moving to Serbia and we are looking forward to making our dream house. There is lot of space for my future stone carving. Your blog is very inspiring and I put your link on my blog to easier follow you. Bye for now ...
    Roberta & Nenad


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