• Sculpture Of Mary Wollstonecraft Unveiled

    A long-awaited sculpture of Mary Wollstonecraft was unveiled on Newington Green, on the border between Islington and Hackney in London, on Tuesday 10 November after a decade of fundraising from grassroots campaign group Mary on the Green

    However, the sculpture, which depicts ‘The Mother of Feminism’, has caused division, with some labelling it as ‘disrespectful, while art historian Bendor Grosvenor says outrage over the statue is a sign it is a triumph, according to the Standard.

    The sculpture was commissioned to celebrate Wollstonecraft’s pioneering role in the political and philosophical canon of early feminism and her activism in north London, where she created a boarding school for girls and was involved in the humanist New Unity church.

    ‘A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft‘ was designed by lauded but sometimes controversial artist Maggi Hambling to capture the timelessness of Wollstonecraft’s arguments and present her as an everywoman unconfined by historical dress.

    A short film about the project was premiered online on the evening of the unveiling, which can be seen here.

    Wollstonecraft’s nudity has been labelled as ‘disrespectful’ and some critics have taken it upon themselves to cover up the sculpture with makeshift clothing upon its unveiling.

    However, others feel that the unconventional statue os fitting for Wollstonecraft, who was a radical thinker.

    Local Councillor Jenny Kay said on Twitter: “A big day in NG [Newington Green]. Visited the memorial earlier and eavesdropped on a group of teenagers debating feminism, beauty ideals and the purpose of statues.

    “I think Mary Wollstonecraft would’ve liked that”.

    Have you seen the statue? What is your opinion? If you need a stone sculptor in Kent, get in touch today.

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  • Stonemason’s Cheeky Self-Portrait Discovered

    Art historian Jennifer Alexander has discovered an 800-year-old self-portrait left by a stonemason inside the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in north-west Spain. The 11-inch-tall carving was found tucked away in a corner, 40 feet off the ground.

    Many a schoolchild has carved their initials into a desk to leave their mark, but the unknown sculptor went one further 800 years ago, carving the self-portrait while helping to build one of Spain’s most famous churches, according to the Guardian.

    And it only took a few centuries for someone to discover the cheeky prank!

    Alexander, a scholar at the University of Warwick and an expert of medieval religious architecture, was conducting a stone-by-stone analysis of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral when she found the charming portrait.

    “It’s just such a charming connection between us and the person that carved it,” she said. “It’s almost as if it was designed just for us to see it by those people working on the building. Of course, this stonemason probably had no idea that he’d have to wait so long to be spotted.”

    The sculptor is sadly likely to remain unknown, as his name and his work will be lost to history. Stonemasons acted as both engineers and contractors in the construction of buildings such as the cathedral, and would usually go uncredited in the historical documents.

    Important stonemasons were allowed to carve images of themselves into their work, but the creator of this visage was a lower-level craftsman who would have been expected to remain in the background.

    Alexander explained, “He clearly had other ideas and placed himself where someone working on the building would find him, but the clergy would never notice what he’d done.”

    Erected in 1211, the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is believed to have been built above the tomb of Jesus’ apostle, Saint James the Great. It is now regarded as one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the world and attracts hundreds of thousands of spiritual pilgrims each year.

    If you need stonemasons in Rye (promise, no cheeky self-portraits hiding in the rafters), then get in touch!

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  • Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Outside Areas Remain Open

    The outdoor areas of Wakefield’s popular Yorkshire Sculpture Park will be staying open during the second national lockdown that came into effect on 5 November.

    While most galleries and museums in the UK, including The Hepworth, National Coal Mining Museum, Nostell, Pontefract Castle and council-run museums in Wakefield and the indoor galleries and restaurant at YSP will be forced to close their doors, you may visit YSP’s outdoor spaces.

    A YSP spokesman said: “Following the government announcement that England is entering a period of additional restrictions, all indoor galleries, shops and restaurants at YSP will close from Thursday 5 November until further notice.”

    Officials for YSP have implemented the necessary safety measures and systems in place across the 500 acres of historic landscape to allow the park to remain open and welcome visitors, which will be continuously reviewed.

    You may visit YSP with members of your household or support bubble, or meet one person who is not in your household or support bubble, and tickets must be purchased ahead of the planned visit, with the box office releasing tickets every Monday.

    While the restaurant is closed, there will be coffee and snacks available from the outdoor coffee bar at YSP Centre, and toilet facilities will also be available at the centre and Bothy Garden.

    There will be a reduction in capacity, as well as one-way systems and social distancing implemented for the safety of everyone.

    We are mindful of the importance of outdoor spaces being available for wellbeing – for people to find solace whilst walking in the open air, connecting with art and nature,” added the YSP spokesperson

    If you need the services of a stone sculptor in East Sussex, talk to us today.

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  • The Stone Used In Stonemasonry: A Quick Guide

    All sorts of different materials are used in stonemasonry and it depends on the particular project as to which stone is the most suitable. Stone is one of the oldest building materials available, easy to source, very durable and incredibly attractive once in place, but it’s important to choose the right kind of stone for what you have in mind.

    Granite, for example, is a particularly hard and durable stone, which means it’s perfect for use in the likes of walls, steps, sills and facing work. You also find it used in piers, bridges, docks and so on, but it isn’t a good option for carving work and artistic sculptures because of its hardness, making it difficult to work with.

    For building work, you will often see the likes of sandstone and limestone, with the former used in dams, masonry work, river walls, bridge piers and so on. Limestone, meanwhile, can be used for roofing, flooring and pavements, but not all limestone is created equal and any forms that are rich in clay or are soft aren’t useful for construction.

    For creative stoneworks and sculpture, marble is often used because it’s easily worked and comes in a wide variety of colours, although white is perhaps the most typical example. 

    Slate is also a very popular choice for memorials and inscriptions, because it ensures a certain level of detail that can be hard to achieve with other stones. It’s also widely used in roofing because it’s easy to split it into thin plates.

    Looking for stonemasons in Dover? Get in touch with us today.

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  • Wallace and Gromit Sculpture Trail In Bristol

    A mini sculpture trail is to be installed in a Bristol shopping centre, that features popular characters from Wallace and Gromit, as well as other Aardman Animation creations.

    The BBC reports that 15 cultures of the characters, including Wallace, Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Feathers McGraw will feature in the display to be installed at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol from 24 October.

    The trail will be designed to keep social distancing measures adhered to and is to raise money for The Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity. It will feature designs from previous sculpture trails, as well as some new designs.

    The trail, called Gromit Unleashed: The Grand Adventure, will feature characters and creations that each represent a different country.

    To keep COVID-secure, the sculptures will be placed out of reach to avoid the risk of transmission of the coronavirus, and there will be ‘selfie spots’ marked to encourage people to keep their distance from others. There will also be an online tour available via the appeal’s website.

    Director of the appeal, Nicola Masters, said those behind it wanted to “help bring a smile to the faces of shoppers and their families while they are visiting The Mall at the end of such a difficult year for everyone”.

    “Gromit Unleashed: The Grand Adventure will take visitors on a safe adventure while helping raise awareness of the sick babies and children in our region that still need our help and support,” she said.

    Previously, Grand Appeal sculpture trails in Bristol, where Aardman Animations is based, have featured other much-loved characters in locations around the city, with each one painted by various well-known artists and celebrities.

    The Gromit trail in 2013 is said to have attracted over a million visitors and raised £6 million for Bristol Children’s Hospital.

    The sculptures are being painted and will be on show from 24 October.

    Who’s your favourite Aardman character? If you’re looking for a stone sculptor in Ashford, contact us today!

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  • Commemorative Plaque for Chevening House

    We were proud to work with George Carter Design Ltd to create this honed Welsh Slate plaque with commemorative inscription for Chevening House, the official residence of the Foreign Secretary.

    Commemorative Plaque for Chevening House

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  • Scientists Discover How “Stone Forests” May Have Been Sculpted

    A team of scientists may have discovered how “stone forests”, pointed rock formations found across the world may have taken shape, and it was not the work of stonemasons in Rye.

    The team working at New York University conducted an experiment that explains that flowing water may have created the starkly pointed rock formations, according to a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Water flowing over stone will slowly erode the rock, which recedes to form these vast stone forests and pinnacles.

    To test the theory they used a rather sweeter alternative to stone: boiled sweets. They created a large block of candy and submerged it into a tank of water.

    As is seen in this video, the whole block dissolves first into a series of holes, before the top surfaces are eroded to create a bed of spikes, before the whole structure collapsed. What is interesting is this particular pattern appeared even when the water remained still.

    It is a fascinating study, not just because it helps us discover how seemingly impossible rock formations and natural landmarks are created, but also can be applied to how stonemasonry will erode throughout the years, from large structures and statues to headstones.

    Stone is an incredibly robust structure but it does erode, and understanding the ways it will erode in different conditions will help in preservation, protection and restoration methods in the future. Nature is indeed a fascinating sculptor and stonemason.

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  • Work Begins On Interactive Whitby Sculpture Trail

    Work has begun on a £55,000 arts and economic project to create a sculpture trail to guide visitors around the streets and alleyways of Whitby.

    The Examiner reports that the Walking with Heritage development will feature seven life-size sculptures that depict Whitby’s fishing industry heritage. The sculptures will be created by local artist Emma Stothard and installed throughout the west side of the town in early 2021.

    The first sculpture was officially unveiled by local fisherman, William Hall and Mayor of Whitby, Cllr Linda Wild, and depicts a fisherman’s wife with baskets full of fish, and has been installed on the west side of the swing bridge.

    One the development is completed, the trail will guide people Whitby Swing Bridge, up to Golden Lion Bank and Flowergate, along Skinner Street and down Kyber Pass, to the conclusion at the bandstand on Pier Road.

    The family-friendly trail will guide visitors around some of the lesser-explored areas of Whitby and provide support to local businesses in those areas. There will also be an app that will accompany the trail, which will provide directions, a map, and details about each sculpture, as well as photos and audio clips from retired fishermen.

    Matthew Joseph, the Community Regeneration Manager, said: “When the trail is complete, not only will it tell people more about Whitby’s rich history through sculpture, it will help to transfer some footfall to the less-visited parts of the town, allowing people to explore the many high-quality businesses in those areas.”

    There are currently plans for a second phase of the project, which will include lesser frequented areas of the east side of the town.

    If you’re looking for a stone sculptor in Tunbridge Wells, get in touch today.

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  • ‘Chronicles Of Narnia’ Sculptures To Adorn Medieval Church

    Few people will not have been exposed to C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia in their childhood, and now visitors to St. Mary’s Church, a 12th-century parish in Beverley, Yorkshire will swoon be welcomed by a cast of characters from the series of books.

    The Guardian reports that 14 limestone sculptures depicting Aslan the lion, Jadis the White Witch, Reepicheep the talking mouse and many other creatures will be replacing the worn medieval carvings that adorned the church’s exterior. The Bishop of Hull, Alison White, blessed the newly commissioned sculptures in a recent ceremony.

    The installation of the statues is part of the first phase in the restoration of the historic building, partly funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

    The project is mainly focussed on over 600 medieval wooden carvings of historical, religious, and mythical figures, known as roof bosses, which are in dire need of conservation, but in better shape than the external stone carvings, which have weathered away almost entirely.

    Roland Deller, director of development at St. Mary’s, explained that there was no visual record of what the original carvings should have looked like, so it was decided to commission something new that reflected more recent times.

    Ideas were submitted by local art and design students, and one sketch of Mr Tumnus the faun who befriends Lucy, the youngest Pevensie sibling, when she first arrives in Narnia, inspired the restoration team to commission a whole series of Narnia carvings by sculptor Kibby Schaefer and master mason Matthias Garn.

    C.S. Lewis published seven volumes between 1950 and 1956 of the adventures in Narnia of four young siblings who are evacuated to the English countryside during World War II, finding themselves pitted in a fight between good and evil.

    Lewis became a devout Christian after years of atheism following his mother’s death and his own service in World War I. Many have argued that the Chronicles of Narnia are a Christian allegory, with the lion king Aslan, who is killed by the White Witch but later returns from the dead, cast as a fictional representation of Jesus.

    The stone sculptures—made with the permission of Lewis’ estate—will be displayed at ground level to enable visitors to see them up close before moving to more permanent positions on the church’s exterior.

    What fictional characters would you set in stone? Get in touch if you need a stone sculptor in Rye.

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  • Cumbrian Stonemason Seeks New Apprentice

    A slate company in Cumbria is looking to the future and wanting to keep traditional crafts alive by taking on its first stonemasonry apprentice in its 44-year history.

    The Westmorland Gazette reports that Coniston Stonecraft, based in a workshop in the foothills of Coniston Old Man, is seeking an apprentice to learn the centuries-old skills of carving, engraving, stone-splitting and polishing.

    Stonemason Andy Barlow explained that Cumbrian slate is unique, and everything he makes is crafted from Cumbrian stone, quarried in the Lake District. “Our slate is renowned all over the world. So we need high-quality stonemasons to work with it,” he said.

    The successful apprentice will be trained by Mr Barlow is all aspects of the trade, learning how to do everything from carving house signs to specialist clocks, and kitchenware.

    Coniston Stonecraft has partnered up with Furness College, where the new apprentice will learn basic workshop engineering skills during the two-year apprenticeship

    The company was saved back in February when it was bought by Brendan Donnelly out of administration, and the company has experienced a mini sales boom, which has brought the need for an extra pair of hands in the workshop.

    Mr Donnelly added: “Half a century ago there were workshops on our site that employed more than a dozen stonemasons. Where have they all gone? It’s a dying trade. But people love Cumbrian slate and our order book is filling up. So we need to train an apprentice stonemason, to future-proof our business.”

    The company has already taken on its first office administration apprentice in August this year. If you want more details of the stonemason apprenticeship, then check on the GOV.UK website.

    If you need the services of stonemasons in Tunbridge Wells, get in touch!

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