CV

I was born on October 1st, the Feast of the Intercession of the Virgin, 1946, in Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, and put to school in Slough. My father's family were joiners and cabinet-makers in Cambridgeshire, my mother's of farming and seafaring stock from Dorset.

Between 1965 and 1972, I attended Cardiff and London Universities and the Institute of Historical Research, studying History, Archaeology and Classical Literature, specialising in Medieval History. I gained a First Class Honours Degree in History from London and won the Derby Studentship. I went on to research medieval spirituality and religious thought for a Doctorate, completed in 1985.

From 1973, returning to my grandfather's profession, I studied woodworking, antique restoration, gilding and picture framing in private workshops, becoming a self-employed artist-craftsman in 1975.

Throughout this period, I travelled extensively in Europe and the Middle East, investigating ancient sites and the works of traditional art and literature associated with them.

From 1986-8 I studied woodcarving with Dick Onians and John Roberts at the City & Guilds Art School in Kennington, winning the William Wheeler Memorial Award and the Worshipful Company of Joiners & Ceilers Prize.

I am registered as an artist-craftsman with the Council for the Care of Churches and architects and Diocesan Advisory Committees countrywide. I was on the database of the Conservation Unit from its inception, but resigned when it was taken over by UKIC in 2004. I have taught carving and life drawing, privately and publicly. I am a member of the Guild for Research into Craftsmanship. I have a lifelong interest in the work of G. I. Gurdjieff.

Articles, features and photographs of my work:
House and Garden, October 1988, p. 72.
National Westminster Bank Moneycare, Spring 1991, pp. 17-8.
The Hampstead and Highgate Express, Friday, May 22nd 1992, front page.
Catholic Herald, 12th June 1992, front page, 21st August 1992. p. 3.
Church Times, 12th June 1992, back page.
The Daily Telegraph, 15th October, 1993, 'You and your family' supplement, p. 10.
The Craft of Woodcarving (Cassells 1994, ISBN 0-304-34467-2), ed. Antony Denning, published in America as The Art and Craft of Woodcarving (Running Press). Extracts reprinted in Mastering Hand Tool Techniques, Alan and Gill Bridgewater (Quarto 1997, ISBN 1-55870-457-4).
Woodcarving, Two Books in One (Sterling Publishing Co New York 1999, ISBN 0-8069-2057-2), ed. Anthony Denning, pp 120, 121.

Exhibitions:
The Art of Embellishment, Shad Thames Galleries, 13-15 Cardamom Building, Shad Thames St. London SE1, 18th -28th May 1994.

Publications:
Church Building, Summer 1993, p. 32: on Our Lady of Vo?in.
Woodcarving magazine, nos.34 & 35, (1997): on St.Mary Abchurch panel restoration. Reprinted in Useful Techniques for Woodcarving (Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd, 1998, ISBN 1 86108 079 4) pp. 39-46
The Brotherhood of the Common Life and Its Influence, (State University of New York Press, Series in Western Esoteric Traditions, ed. David Applebaum, 1995) ISBN 0-7914-2243-7 & 0-7914-2244-5; extracts from first draft appeared in Jacob Needleman's Money and the Meaning of Life (Doubleday, 1991, ISBN 0-385-26241-8), pp. 299-309.
"On Listening and the Word" in Parabola, vol XX, no. 3, Language and Meaning (New York, August 1995), pp. 33-38; response to outraged letter of clergyman about this essay, in Parabola, vol XX, no. 4, Eros (November 1995), pp. 11, 136.

Manuscripts:
Forty or so stories, travelogues, autobiographical fragments, contes philosophiques, conjugations. Unpublished, at present.

Afterword

Sculpture and Carving, Conservation and Restoration: fashionable redefinitions are guaranteed titillation, unfailingly bon ton. Skill is only a threshold. If head, heart and hand remain disunited, spirit is locked out. Then one's work is a source of shame. A living culture is remade continuously between opposing forces, even heaven and earth, but at least between whatever upper and nether millstones one is able to experience consciously responsibly.

I have been influenced by the values of ancient sacred art and the surviving craft traditions, zig-zagging between universitiy, workshop, art school, museums and ancient sites in inaccessible places. I have learnt what I am able by conforming to traditional models (envied for emulation) and original hand tools (useless, unless used properly). Sacred art, traditional thought, remembering oneself, what is it? One hears a sound, but doesn't know from where it comes. There is, so to say, no time.

My trips to ancient sites etc. were out of love for the quality of traditional work and the vision it expressed. Could such work be done today? And why should it be? The question will seem fantastic, but was involuntary in me, from astrology perhaps and the dearth of my education. Twenty five years of work have shown that such work is indeed possible, and that it continues to magnetise anyone who pays attention. Ah, but the living! Compiling this website, has been like spreading muck into thin air to grow aerial marrows, tiger striped, bestowing wealth on the impoverished land.

From hating hand work because it humiliated me, I have come to love the demand it makes for the coordination of all the parts of my common presence. It aborts the influence of contemporary culture by deepening and widening the force of attention supported by sensation of the body. It is said that each day, before attempting to sculpt the human form, the temple carvers in ancient india would make contact with every part of their own bodies. Traditional wisdom says we have something like a mirror within us which needs polishing.

Carving is a subtractive, self-denying process. It requires an unerring relaxed expansion. Forms are abandoned only to be rediscovered. Murder your darlings. In the course of the work the material is soaked in attention. Unity is when the whole exceeds the sum of the parts. Direct carving, from the vision of imagination, unmediated by projected models or mental concepts, is a disciplined way to work. Everything one says about it is a kind of lie.

The forces involved in this work and the precise action of a harmoniously realised form are well expressed in Rilke's poem on an Archaic torso of Apollo.

…for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.


In the conditions of contemporary life the normal question of how to make an honest living must somehow include a restitution, because the pitch has been queered. Consider the traditional vision:
'The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man who is not an artist in some field, every man without a vocation is an idler. The kind of artist a man should be, carpenter, painter, lawyer, farmer, or priest, is determined by his own nature, in other words by his nativity. The only man who has a right to abstain from all constructive activities is the monk who has surrendered all those uses that depend on things that can be made and is no longer a member of society. No man has a right to any social status who is not an artist.' (Coomaraswamy, Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art)


To be properly expressed, a thing must proceed from within, moved by its form. (Eckhart)

On Craft (pdf file)

   

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