Monday, June 14, 2010


                                                          A Monument To All Horses


Irish Limestone
{ One Block }                 

9 feet  Long  [ 2.74m ]
2 feet 9 inches Wide
[ 0.84m ]
6 feet  High  [ 1.83m ]

1993 - 1996

Private Collection 
Newbridge Silverware

The Female Side

The Story

'A MONUMENT TO ALL HORSES' was a commission to myself with a time frame of two years to carve 'The Horse' from one block of  limestone. My choice of stone, blue limestone, was for the different finishes I could achieve with the stone and for the quality of limestone in Ireland which is quite good for carving, it's out-door durability and also for the effect it has when the stone becomes wet with rain, it dries out in different stages through out the block giving another appearance to the stone in that it's never the same at any one time in  daylight.  The block was quarried in the midlands of Ireland where the best limestone quarries are and transported by truck used for moving heavy earth moving machinery. On seeing the block while being transported to my yard it was quite a site moving it by truck on the road that it only added to my excitement in the carving of the stone. It took the full day, about twelve hours, to load the block in the quarry onto the back of the truck, slow drive and unload it into working position in my yard.

The limestone block was one 'full block'... that is, drilled from the quarry bed with no other stone removed from the block and it was now standing in my yard waiting for the 'first cut'. It took time on my part in choosing the right block for 'The Horse'. I would make my choice on choosing a block for The Horse' by my 'instinct', my feelings for the stone ... it's nearly like meeting someone for the first time, you like them or you stand back ... and the quarry owner would look over the block after me making my 'mark' on a block that I felt I could work would tell me 'good stone' or 'not good' on his expertise of knowing the stone and knowing his quarry. There is no such thing as a 'bad stone' just a bad choice.

The block was now in my yard after months of planning and looking for the right stone to carve for my 'Horse' that it took me a couple of weeks before I made the first 'cut' into the stone and before that happened the time was spent in me being with the stone, just looking at it and walking around and on top of the block,  It was like being with some wild animal waiting for it to get use to your presence and for both of us to 'calm down' ... in other words, in acceptance of having to work together and for the next two years or so. This was a block of stone formed millions of years before it was taken out of the ground that it already had a 'life' before I came along to give it another 'life' in the form of  'The Horse'. As for me this is my way of respecting the stone and getting familiar to it's size and presence before I begin to work. While working a stone this size you only see what's in front of your nose, to 'see' it all while working you have to stop work walk back from the stone and then look. The stone 'can make or brake you'.

The block was carved in it's finished position as it would be seen, that is,  four to five feet off ground level on a plinth, so if I wanted to turn the block it was not possible for me,  for example, in removing the 'waste stone' from between the legs it was done by knelling on my knees most of the time and lying on my back working a 'nine inch' angle grinder and hammer and punch. Working like this is slow, dangerous and tiring on the arms, the last thing you want is for your arms to get tired and the angle grinder to drop. The safest way  to remove the stone is by drilling at the quarry but in order to do that you should have a working model to take your measurements from and I had no working model as I wanted to carve it 'direct', that is using my intuition for the horse and the stone combined. 

As for the appearance to have the 'Horse's' head twisting out from it's body the stone from 'the tail to the chin' was removed first before any other area was worked.  In doing this I was taking the gamble that my idea would work when 'The Horse' was finished and also putting allot of extra work on myself. I could have carved the head within the block form but for the overall appearance of the sculpture I felt I did the right thing in carving the head to look to the side ...
What is my time out of my life compared to the time the sculpture will 'live' on.

The 'Horse' has a 'Male' side and a 'Female' side. This came about, and also a good example of 'direct carving' in practice ...  in me carving the stone and finding on one complete side [ the side where the head is facing to the right in the photo } is dotted through out the stone with flint.  This material is very hard and can be harder than granite. It makes the stone very difficult to carve and also dangerous to work in that your blade in your angle grinder could jam-up, buckle, brake and fly off in different directions like flying pieces of shrapnel or the machine could stop dead or kick back and brake your arm ... well when you are aware of all of these things you gain more respect for your machine and the material you are carving and work with extreme caution. The other situation which was open to me and most other sculptors would do was to reject the stone as not safe to work, but I could not financially afford to do that and worked on.

The 'Female' side, the opposite side to the 'Male' ... the stone was 'clean' and easy to work for me that I felt nature had provide two types of stone in the one block and I used it to my advantage and for the betterment of the sculpture. When you walk around the sculpture you can see the difference in both sides, both in colour and line. When you work with 'your stone' in harmony you know how it dictates form, line and finish, it all leads to a sculpture that takes on it's own 'life' in the making and when finished.

'A MONUMENT TO ALL HORSES' was carved over a period of two years, not everyday, for there are times when you will find it's better to do more 'looking' at the stone than work.  For me in the carving of this stone I gain the 'joy of the making' and the achievement of having done it in the sense that this sculpture is a 'direct' carving, that is, using no model, just going with the 'feeling of the stone' and the flow of the line and your intuition. Having lived with the 'The Horse' after carving it for a period of ten years in my yard and seeing it everyday that if I had the block all over again to work I would not change anything in it's form and can stand by the work in that I gave it my best.  

Every sculpture has it's buyer and my buyer came into my yard exactly ten years after the carving of  'The Horse',  and as for 'The Horse',  it was looking so well that you would think that I had finished it the day before. When a work is meant to see the 'light of day' it will take on a life of it's own, first in your mind and then in form that it will become part of everything else and when a sculpture is placed in public it becomes part of all who see it and it's surroundings.

The Male Side

'A MONUMENT TO ALL HORSES' is the sculpture I made reference too in my story 'LIFE MAKES THE ARTIST' and the 6m high polished black granite sculpture in the background of the above photograph is also my work, titled; 
commissioned by Mr.William Doyle of Newbridge Silverware in honour of his parents contribution to 'life' and the town of Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

My heart-felt thanks goes to Mr.William Doyle for his support and confidence in me and my work through out my years as an Artist.

I am very grateful to my good friend David Brophy for taking the photographs of  'The Horse'.
Thank You David. Registered & Protected


clippingimages said...

interesting sculptures

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the 'journey' in sculpting the horse. Time certainly has a different meaning when creating such 'timeless' pieces.


daf said...

Hi Terry ... my reason for writing 'The Story' behind the making if my Art is so that people have more 'insight' into the process of the work from start to finish ... it can have the same effect as giving 'birth' for my Art begins with a thought that moves into a feeling that moves into action that moves into reality for 'Art can outlive life'....

daf said...

Hi to Clippingimages ... thank you for youe comment and viewing my work ... hope to hear from you again .....

David Brophy said...


daf said...

Thank you David for your deep meaning comment both on the 'Horse' and 'Me' ... I hope there will be more to come from 'Me'.... and that the 'Horse' will give 'joy' to all who will see it ... It will live on when I am well 'gone' ..

Image Clipping Path said...

WOW!Awesome sculptures. You have a great creativity inside you. Love it so much..

daf said...

Thank you ... and for your time and interest in my work.