It is over a week since I left Herefordshire, drained from the intensive process of making but, conversely, invigorated. After the diversion of carving and delivering a lettered slate plaque, I unwrapped the pear wood block to scrutinise the forms that have emerged. The limewood, Whole, had real ownership of the Cart Shed participants who gave it a steer. The finishing stages of the pear will be a more lonely process.
I had just read the latest blog post by Keith Foskett, whose imagery had steered the beginning of the block and whose latest trip report added a prescient nudge for me.
Coming home, I’d also been itching to re-read Richard Mabey’s Nature Cure, his 2005 autobiographical journal of overcoming depression through a love of nature and a re-awakening of the imagination. He had at one point found himself in the same hospital in Northampton as the poet John Clare who had written so powerfully about nature and the loss of rural ways nearly 200 years earlier.
The ‘other’ side of the pear has the beginnings of a single figure and interlocking trees, yet the mass available for the emergent female figure is woefully deficient. With head at the top of the block and feet at the base, ‘she’ becomes more willowy and tree-like to cope with the lack of carving material in crucial areas. However, Michelangelo managed to resolve the compromised Duccio block which was heavily worked into by a previous sculptor then (twice) abandoned, rendering it useless for a conventional figure.
And yet, with persistence, his David resulted.