Tuesday, October 27, 2009






Fontanabuona Black Slate
1m High x 0.5m x 0.5m

3rd International Symposium in Slate
'La Pietra Nera'

The Story

It's unavoidable in Italy not to feel the strong religious ' presence ' in architecture or the church bells ringing out almost all hours of the day especially in the mountains or small towns or villages almost everywhere you go and Cicagna is one of those small towns in the mountains that has that ' presence '.
Cicagna , besides it's marble has it's slate mines , a blue - black slate of quite good quality and the slate was the material I chose to work in having never tried it before , some of the other sculptors chose to work in the local marble . The working technique of slate is not like any other carving process and took me awhile maybe the whole working time of the symposium to feel any way relaxed with the material . The making of sculpture in slate is not very common because you are quite restricted as in what you can do to the material but I would feel more comfortable in the abstract design in the material and cut in the ' right way ' the lines can be very clean and polish up to a very fine finish , that's the plus for the material . When you work the material ' face on ' it's quite hard to carve any grate depth into it and that's why hand cut letters look and wear well in slate , the weather can never damage the material , but when you work the slate with the vein it falls away in sheets , and therefore the working approach I adapted was ' cut in and chop out ' maybe other sculptors have a different working method for the slate but this was the way I approach the material and before I cut the slate I had to think about the cut as in what way it was going to come out and in the way I wanted it to . I would liked to have more time on my hands to see what I could do with the material , this is always the way in working the stone , you want to give it your best as it will give you it's best , but as in symposium it was not to be and to finish the work was more important , always finish , it's your name and reputation , it's better for it to travel ahead of you in good words than bad .
From the photographs you can see it's dealing about religion and from the title of the work you can understand the message in the sculpture , but the deeper message within the work is  the conscious and the sub-conscious  mind . The conscious mind [ the thinking mind ] is symbolic of Moses carrying the tablets which the Ten Commandments are carved on in Roman numerals down from the mountain and and the figure at the back is the sub-conscious mind [ non thinking mind ] carved in semi abstract form and burying it's face in it's hands , not wanting to be part of what's going on . You will notice from the photographs that the conscious mind from the weight of the tablets and the responsibility it carries is leaning into the sub-conscious mind as for support . The two minds are joined together at the back of the head showing that the sub-conscious mind can be accessed if we know how to go about it and that both can be one and be one [ To Be Or Not To Be ] .  At the base of the stone on the polished side , which I call ' the dark side ' is carved the sun , the moon and the Tower of Babel , so immense was the Tower that it's top was in the heavens according to the bibical account . The Tower was not built for the worship or praise of God but was dedicated to the glory of man and God seeing what the people had done came down and destroyed the Tower and scattered the people throughout the Earth . Carving the Tower into my work was important to me and the Mind and God debate within myself is still going on as it has since the beginning of Time as we know it .
Most people looking at my work will not see the ' deep message ' in it at first but some will and I remember one old man did get the meaning when I was completing my work but it was not until I carved the Tower of Babel did the sculpture come together for him . I am always surprised when my work can ' touch ' .

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