On a day that was filled, for me at least, with a deep sadness at an EU Referendum decision that leaves a Britain that no longer wants to be part of something bigger than itself, I took myself off to Kennington to spend time with a old friend and lose myself in art. My old friend, Lawrence Dennison, is a stone mason, sculptor and carver, he has spent the last few years studying for the UK’s only postgraduate diploma in Historic Carving at the City and Guilds of London Art School.
We have had snippets over the years, little photos of what he has been up to, but finally his course is finished and his degree show is here and he is ready to share his finished work. I have spent a little bit of time with historic stone carvings at the Museum of London archive. I have been up close and personal with a Roman stone eagle and Lawrence gave me insight into how his Roman counterpart would have gone about his work. But seeing the quality of this work is something else entirely.
The work by Lawrence and his fellow graduates is simply stunning, it feels quite strange to see the work so pristine and fresh when I am used to seeing stone that has lain for many years in the ground. It is fascinating to hear the graduates talk, how long a piece took, which parts were the hardest, how one particular piece of stone was hard to carve. When you see the work you can appreciate the beauty, but you can never really understand the hours and hours of work behind it. The head of St John the Baptist took Lawrence 6 months and around 240 hours to complete.
Piece by Felix Handley
The different techniques and processes used are complex and difficult, the horses head was carved from a block of stone weighing a tonne. I can’t do justice to them in this quick blog. But I hope to delve a little deeper in another blog soon. I want to get this out quickly while the degree show is still on and you have time to visit for yourself.
Along with the stone, there are wood carvings and an up close look at the pieces the conservation graduates have been working on, including a restored plaster portrait roundel of James Ormiston Macwilliam from the Royal College of Physicians.
Theses skills are precious and so easily lost, it is a real celebration of a great deal of hard work and a fantastic opportunity to talk to students about their work and the courses that the City and Guilds school has to offer.
For an hour or so I forgot this world, I forgot the news and the polls, I just spent a moment enjoying art, beautiful objects, great skill and passion. So if you feel like you need a little bit of this over the weekend I recommend letting a little art take you away from it all. I couldn’t leave without a little something to cheer me at home too.
By Lawrence Dennison
If you wish to find out anymore about the artists or commission them for work please drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
The City & Guild London Art School Degree Show is on this weekend – Saturday and Sunday 10-6pm and a number of pieces are also on sale.
23-26th June 2016
Saturday 25th June, 10.00am to 5.00pm
Sunday 26th June, 10.00am to 5.00pm
124 Kennington Park Road London SE114DJ