I have been a professional stone carver for thirty years. I was taught by John Paddison - Jacob Epstein's last assistant, and Walter Ritchie - Eric Gill's last apprentice, and the way I carve is the way they carved.
Epstein and Gill revived the direct carving tradition which I continue. Direct carving means carving directly into the stone as an originating material, without first making and then copying a preliminary clay or plaster model. Keeping the original inspiration in mind, and supported by my drawings, I allow the stone itself to suggest possibilities as the work progresses.
The techniques of direct carving used by Epstein and Gill and subsequently by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth are the ones that I pass on in my teaching at The Birches Studio and describe in my lectures.
I always begin by drawing; my sketchbook and working drawings are vital tools. In my field sketches I try to capture some of the essential shapes, some aspect of the subject and my response to it. My observational drawings are later re-worked to simplify and abstract shape. Keeping the drawings in mind I carve freely into the stone. Through my carving I try to raise awareness of wildlife and aspects of the natural world that are often overlooked. I do not carve with the intention of making a precise model of my subject. The result may be no more than the curve of a wing, the arch of a neck, a relationship of forms, the poise for flight, "...the achieve of, the mastery of the thing". (Gerard Manley Hopkins).