I have been asked this week to take over The Visual Arts Scotland Instagram page to give an insight into my work as a Sculptor and Letter Carver. One of the themes I was asked to explore was who are my artistic influences ? If I was asked to name artists or creatives who have influenced my work or whose work excites or inspires me in someway, I would have to say Alberto Giacometti, Eric Gill and Ian Hamilton Finlay. I also admire the work of the famous Barbara Hepworth, and the contemporary sculptors, Emily Young, and Mel Fraser.
Alberto Giacometti was one of the most important 20th century sculptors whose work was influenced by the artistic styles of cubism and surrealism. He later moved onto figurative compositions with his tall and slender figurines which look impossibly delicate and fragile. I have tried to create this ‘thinness’ but because I work in marble, it is not easy to achieve this.
Eric Gill was a Sculptor and one of the most recognised letter carvers in the UK, and the acknowledged master of the craft. He was also a typeface designer and printmaker and associated with The Arts and Craft movement. He designed the Gill sans typeface based on the sans-serif lettering which was originally designed for The London Underground.
Gill trained at Chichester Art School and then became an architect. However, he became disillusioned and gave it all up to train as a stone mason eventually becoming a calligrapher, letter cutter and monumental mason.
I identify with this as there is a constant debate between what is Art and Craft ? Those who haven’t gone to art school are not considered artists by the establishment but Mel Fraser, the contemporary sculptor is completely self taught and is well known for her work.
Ian Hamilton Finlay
Ian Hamilton Finlay was a Scottish poet, writer, artist and gardener who created the garden ‘Little Sparta’ near Edinburgh. The garden was designed to display his sculptures in a natural environment with his poems inscribed into the stones. His recurring themes were classical writers, the sea, fishing, The French Revolution, World War II and Latin phrases. The photo below is ‘ The Present Order is the Disorder of The Future – Saint Just 1983’
Simon Burns-Cox has been working in stone and marble for a long time. He particularly enjoys the discipline of lettering, and has an admiration for Eric Gill’s work, the acknowledged master of the craft.
Simon loves working in marble because of its texture and the potential of its many veins and colours. Although many of his pieces are abstractions, they have their origins in natural forms. They are domestic in scale and personality, designed not to shock but to please. Simon wants people to handle them, to look closely, and to be reminded of hidden things in the world around them.
For the Sculptor, it is the challenge of creating something out of an inanimate object that excites. There is a constant need to express oneself and use the stream of ideas to create. Marble is a tactile medium which can reveal secrets during the carving process. It is tender, beautiful and has a lovely relationship with light.