Like many Sculptors, I use Carrara Marble from Italy in much of my work. When I worked in Rome, I used to drive up to Tuscany with my Italian friend and colleague, Paolo, to the Province of Massa to visit the Carrara Quarries where we would select the marble. Michelangelo and Canova did the same!
It was the Romans who first started to use marble from this area after the conquest of Liguria in the early second century and quarrying has continued to this day. The marble has been used since Ancient Rome. The Pantheon and Trajan’s Column in Rome were both constructed of it, and many sculptures of the Renaissance were carved from it.
Ancient Roman tools were discovered in the extraction of marble in Carrara where wedges of wood had been used to fill up the cracks, then filled with water to swell the wood and crack the stone. After the Romans, there was no more extraction of marble until the 13th century but the same techniques for extraction were still used.
Today, marble is exported all over the world. The name Carrara derives from the pre-roman word ‘kar’ meaning stone and through the latin word ‘carrariae’ meaning quarries.
Carrara marble is white or blue/grey which is the highest quality used by Sculptors and for buildings and represents 5% of the stone mining. This type of marble is called ‘Statuario’ and was used by Michelangelo and Canova to create works such as ‘Pieta’ and ‘David’.
When you drive up through the mountains, there are vast ranges of white dusty quarries. They are huge, noisy and commercial enterprises. The rock has been cut out of the landscape with enormous machines. The roads are white with dust and the effect on the landscape is very evident with entire rock faces having been cut away and one wonders how long this will last.
For further information about the sculpture work of Simon Burns-Cox, please visit his website at https://simonburnscox.co.uk/