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Thursday 6 December 2012

Some carvers whose work has particularly influenced me

Well, a lot has been going on, but I can't say much about it. I've been busy carving an oak plaque recently, but have promised not to show it on the blog until after it has been given as a Christmas present! There's also been a lot of work done constructing a bed for friends, but I'd like to show pictures from the making process when a bit more work has been done.

Soooo... I thought I'd show some work by carvers which has really struck me over the years. Some of them are well known, others not so much. All of their work is, in my opinion, well worth a look.
The images used come from the sites that are linked to. I hope that using them will introduce more people to their creator's work.

John Nelson

I first saw this Australian carver's work online in 2000. The delicacy and humour of his pieces inspired me to begin carving insects and develop the 'Mechanical insects' series.

Paul Deans

Paul Deans is based in New Zealand. I saw a carving, called 'Hinewai calling from the mist', at a gallery in a small town called Akaroa. This is on the Banks Penninsula, on New Zealand's South Island. The area still has old timber from when the forest was cleared lying around in the fields- a woodcarver's paradise!
After returning to the UK, I couldn't get the carving out of my head, even though I had no pictures of it and could not remember who carved it. On a long shot, I found the address of the Akaroa tourist office online and asked them if they could tell me the name of the gallery. The amazing Maryn Curry in the tourist office managed to find out not only the name of the gallery, but also the carver and his website. I have since been able to contact Paul and tell him how influential his carving was on my own work.

"As he walked along the narrow path between the trees, Uenuku stared at the column of mist standing over the lake. He had often seen mist lying low over the water but never a column of it standing up like the trunk of a tall tree. He quickened his step, overcome with curiosity. At the edge of the forest, close to the beach, he stopped. Two young women were bathing in the still water. He could see that they were beautiful even through the veils of mist that wrapped around them like a cloud. Further out the air was clear, but nearer to the shore everything had turned to the silver in the clinging cloud. These two women were Hine-pukohu-rangi, the Girl of the Mist and her sister Hine-wai the Misty Rain Girl. They had come down from the clouds to bathe in the clear water of the lake.
As he looked at them Uenuku felt a strange sensation come over him. He seemed to be drawn to them by a powerful force. They looked at him with clear eyes, unafraid and wondering. Uenuku knelt down at the water’s edge and said to the Mist Girl, “I am Uenuku. Tell me your name.”
“I am Hine-pukoho-rangi, daughter of the sky. I am the Girl of the Mist”
Uenuku stretched out his arms. “Come and live with me in this world of light,” he said, “I have never seen a woman as beautiful as you. I am strong and will take care of you.”> “I cannot leave my home,” the Mist Girl replied. “Even now my sister is waiting for me to return.”
“Ah, you will love this world,” Uenuku pleaded. “It is not cold and empty like the space above. There is fire and warmth here, with the summer sun shinning through the leaves of the trees and in winter the glowing fire on the hearth. There are birds and their songs, men and women and their laughter. Come with me Girl of the Mist.”
She took a step towards him and drew back. “You would not be happy with me,” she said.
“I would always love you,” Uenuku said simply.
“But you do not understand. I come from the Outer Space, and though I might spend the night with you, I should have to return to my home in the heavens as soon as the sky grew light.” Uenuku was stubborn. “I still want,” he said. “Even though I shall be lonely through the day, please come and live with me.” The Mist Girl smiled. “I shall come home with you,” she said.
No one saw Uenuku and his bride as they slipped into the whare when the firelight glowed in the creeping darkness. No one heard his words of love as he took her into his arms. In the morning before the sun had risen over the hills, the Mist Girl met her sister. They seemed to mingle like two clouds and drifted upwards before the sun’s rays could pierce them. Every morning the Mist Girl left her husband and every evening she joined him when the shadows stole across the Marae. As the summer days grew longer the women began to poke fun at Uenuku. “You say you have a bride in your whare,” they laughed. “Where is your bride, Uenuku, this bride we have never seen? Perhaps she is only a log of wood or a bundle of korari. Show her to us and we will believe you when you say she is beautiful.” There was a little time between the sinking of the sun and his rising again. During the long hours of daylight Uenuku missed the laughter of the Mist Girl and longed to hear her voice lifted up in song, and to see her take her place among the poi-dancers. In the end he could bear the absence of his wife no longer. One day he tied mats across the windows and pushed moss into the crevices between the planks. When the door was shut the whare was dark as a moonless night when the clouds have covered the covered the sky.
That night the Mist Girl entered the whare unsuspecting. The hours of darkness passed until the first light flushed the eastern sky and the Rain Girl called to her sister. “Come, Hine, we must rise up from the earth.” “I am coming,” the Mist Girl answered and felt round in the darkness for her cloak. “What are you doing?” Uenuku asked. “It is time for me to go.”
“Nonsense,” he replied, pretending to be half-asleep. “Why are you disturbing me? Look around you there is no light anywhere.”
“But morning must be near. My sister has called to me.”
“Hine-wai is mistaken. Perhaps she has seen the moonlight or the starlight. There is no light anywhere. Go to sleep again.”
Hine-pukohu-rangi lay down again. “She must be mistaken,” she said, “but it is strange. I do not understand it. She has never made such a mistake before.”
The Misty Rain Girl kept calling her and her voice was mingled with the sounds of the waking birds, but Uenuku maintained that she was mistaken. Presently she could wait no longer, and the husband and wife heard her voice growing fainter as she left them.
“I am sure there is something wrong,” the Mist Girl said, suddenly wide-awake. “Listen I can hear the forest birds singing.”
They listened. Hine-wai had gone but the song of the birds was very loud and there were voices on the Marae. Hine-pukohu-rangi ran to the door, forgetting her cloak. She opened it and the broad daylight flooded the whare. She stood there a moment and a gasp of amazement went up from the people, for the Mist Girl was so slender and beautiful that no one had ever seen anything so wonderful before. She did not look as though she belonged to the earth.
Uenuku followed her out, smiling because everyone was envying him his wife. As he passed through the doorway, Hine sprang onto the roof of the house and climbed to the ridgepole. Her long hair covered her body. The exclamations of the people were silenced as she began to sing. It was a sad song; there was pain in it, and longing, and love for Uenuku. Then a strange thing happened.
Out of the clear sky a cloud drifted down. It wreathed itself around her, fold on fold, until she could no longer be seen. Only her voice could be heard coming from the tiny cloud. Then the song stopped and there was silence. The cloud drifted away from the roof. It rose upwards, higher and higher, until it seemed to dissolve in the bright sunshine, which bathed the empty ridgepole in a glow of golden light. Uenuku was heart-broken. He could not meet the pitying eyes of his friends. His whare was cold and cheerless. Night after night he waited for the Mist Girl to return, but she never came back. One day he left his home and set out on a long search for his wife. He met with many adventures and passed through strange countries but no one could tell him what had become of Hine-puhoku-rangi. As his search went on, year after year, he grew old and bent and toothless, and at last, lonely and disappointed, he died in a distant country.
He had paid for his thoughtlessness and pride, and so the far gods of space took pity on him. They lifted up his old body and changed him into a many-coloured rainbow and set him in the sky where everyone could see him. Hine-pukohu-rangi still rises when the sun comes over the hills and warms the damp earth, while Uenuku, the shining rainbow, circles his lovely wife with a band of glowing colour."

Ian Norbury

Ian Norbury is well-known in the British woodcarving community. He founded the British Woodcarver's Association and has been carving for over 25 years. I love the way he combines detailed naturalistic carving with fantastical themes in a unique way. I have also been influenced by his techniques in combining woods in a piece, using the different colours and textures like a paint palette.
His site is very well produced and has plenty of images of his work.

Lona Hymas-Smith

I love American artist Lona Hymas-Smith's delicate and colourful sculptures. When writing this post, I  learned that she tragically died in a cycling accident in March this year.
I can only give condolences to her family and friends and say how much her sculptures were appreciated by me and other carvers in Britain (there was an article on her work in the British magazine called 'Woodcarving'). Very, very beautiful work. 

Guy Shaw

The late Guy Shaw carved delicate netsuke. Netsuke are the toggles used in traditional Japanese clothing to secure items to the sash holding the kimono robe closed. Traditional Japanese clothing did not have pockets, so netsuke were important and widely used, becoming a status symbol and more and more beautiful and elaborate. This craftsmanship has influenced carvers from other parts of the world to produce their own versions and there are many amazing contemporary netsuke carvers to be discovered, as well as the older works in collections such as the Victoria and Albert museum's in London. 

Auguste Rodin

Rodin is very famous, especially for works such as 'The Burghers of Calais' and 'The Thinker'. I like his smaller scale works, particularly where the carving seems to emerge from the rock itself. The contrast between the smooth carved surface, the roughly worked carved areas and the untouched stone is intriguing and inspiring, as in this piece, called 'The hand of the devil'

There are many other people whose work should also be in here, such as David Nash, Rene Lalique, Jim Partridge and Hector Guimard. I have to go and get on with some of my own work though! Just to finish, I thought I'd include these anonymous portrait busts, carved in ancient Rome and now housed in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum.

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