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Fresh Air 2019, bursary piece, the beginning!

Bursary piece for Quennington Sculpture Trust, the beginning ...

Ancient oak elbows ready to be worked on.

Delighted to have been awarded a bursary to produce a pair of sculptures for Fresh Air 2019 by Quennington Sculpture Trust, I researched, sourced and purchased a pair of very old rare oak elbow joints from a centuries old barn.

Having previously not working with anything this shape or weight this was going to be a new experience and opportunity to try something new to me as a sculptor.

When the pieces were delivered on a very cold January day I was excited and immediately saw the pieces as a pair of figures side by side, an ancient couple. At this stage I didn't realise how rotten the wood was in places and the challenge ahead to remove it, working true to materials as they evolved. The reclaimed wood speaks the design in many ways.

The markings on the surface of the wood revealed some initials carved into them in places. I thought about the couples who may have been in the barn, the elbow joints were sourced from, centuries ago and the title for the piece was born - Ancient Couplyng (with a 'y' not only to totally confuse autopsell but because it is the Middle English version of the word meaning the formation of a romantic loving bond or marriage). I wondered how many couples had stood side by side and used the old barn as a love nest or place to liaise in secret.

The weather dictated the start of these pieces as it was often too cold or too wet to work in my outdoor workshop that has no form of heat, just providing shelter from the elements and a place to do the 'dirty work'.

Never have I seen so much dirt and dust from a piece of reclaimed wood as I began the initial sanding and I must confess I did wonder what I'd let myself in for as I got very very dirty and after hours the surface hadn't even been scratched. Adorning safety glasses, dust mask, work fleece with thermals underneath, work boots and work gloves I spent many days sanding and removing chunks of rotten wood in places that couldn't be saved. It was a constant source of amusement to my family as I stepped inside inside removing the mask and glasses to reveal the dirtiest face imaginable, it looked like I'd been chimney sweeping rather than working on a sculpture. Many more days of this were to follow ...

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