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Over the summer i took part in a 5 days stone carving workshop at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This was the second part of my  A-N Professional Development Bursary support.

On reflection of this year it was one of the best things I’ve done. It was a time that i felt i could truly just concentrate on making.

Being at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for 5 days doing the workshop felt quite special as i created my stone sculpture in such a inspirational place surrounded by great works of art. I felt part of the park and it kind of gave me a confidence as i worked with-in the landscape of the park.

The workshop took place outside amongst the trees and not too far away from Bob & Roberta Smith piece “Art Makes Children Powerful” coming into the centre each day and seeing this slogan you couldn’t help but feel positive about learning. yes art makes children powerful but art and learning doesn’t stop there and art might make children powerful but it gives us adults a freedom and I felt this workshop was giving me a freedom to experiment and time to focus which is sometimes so hard to find the time to do when your constantly working on art projects and searching out the next project and residences to make ends meet.

I wanted to do this workshop as in my practice i had started looking at stone has being a material for me to use. I’ve been researching about monuments while looking at remembrance and death and on my visits to The centre for Death and Life studies in Durham we had talked about art works that i could place across the site and the possibility of me working with the masons of Durham cathedral.

The workshop was over 5 day and our tutor was artist Marcia Bennett-Male who was absolutely brilliant. She made you feel at ease from the go and was great on information and showing you the skills you needed. The atmosphere over the 5 days was great all the other work shoppers were so friendly it was such a pleasant place to learn. With cups of tea and biscuits and home made cake brought in on our picnic day.

I worked with Ancaster hard white limestone that i found easy to carving into as its not too hard. I had come with the idea to learn how to do letters in stone. Everyone kept saying how hard lettering was but i really wanted to learn lettering as this was a skill i knew i would use in my practice. As i already do lettering on copper.

Marcia showed me how to start the letter carving which was very tricky at first especially when you get to the edges but i soon got the hang of it. I worked for a bit on a practice stone but was very keen to get on to doing it on my main piece of stone. I worked out that i couldn’t do the sentence that i had come with as it would have taken me weeks to do at the pace i was working. I think i always think too ambitious on workshops wanting to create a great place of art and not taking into account that it doesn’t have to be perfect its about the process. Instead i chose to do just the one word Memory.

I’m really happy with how my stone carving went with the word memory. I’m not so happy about the rest what i call my interpretation of memory. As i had concentrated on my lettering i felt i hadn’t given myself the full time to work on the shaping skills of the stone and other craving skills (something to work on when back in my studio). I could see the others really working on that part and coming up with amazing works. Owls – Cats penguins and even a house.

I’m glad i did get the opportunity to learn stone carving in a professional environment and the skills and knowledge from Marcia  have really helped me.

The workshop really did give me a passion and confidence to continue to work in stone on my own in the studio and the starting point to advance my knowledge about stone which is far more vast than i ever thought.

I fully recommend this workshop, and all the workshops at YSP it such an inspiring place to work.

here are my photos from the workshop.