If you live or work in a British town or city, the chances are you are surrounded by a range of buildings, representing a range of styles. We have a strong architectural heritage in this country – from mock-Tudor beams to modernist clean lines and everything in between.
Sometimes it’s not the form of a building I’m struck by, but the decoration and ornaments on it. And something I’ve started to look more closely at is carved stone.
I never realised there are so many carvings around us. You’d think Neo-classical and Victorian buildings have most of this, but there’s also relief carving and lettering on buildings right up to today.
I’d not thought much of this, until I went on a relief stone carving course recently at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, for an article I was writing for the Northern Soul online magazine.
It took me a whole day to create a pretty awful relief carving on a large brick. Looking again at a swathe of hand-carved lettering on a war memorial or a huge carved mural now makes me stand back and appreciate the time and skill that goes into chipping away with a hammer and chisel.
Carving stone is a remarkably therapeutic process – taking something hard and cold and trying (in my case not all that well) to turn it into something smooth and beautiful.
But perhaps more important than the carved slab at the end of the day, what I appreciated most was the chance to stop, to think and to create something. In a busy world of hectic urban life and continuous news cycles, it’s important to stand back every so often and enjoy the process of making something.
Have a go – you might like it.