Precious Beasts – Carving Crystal Idols

Precious Beasts is an ongoing series of carved sculptural idols, loosely related to prehistoric representations of animals and magical creatures of fantasy.

These sculptures offer me the means to meditate on process, to find ways of translating a visual vernacular of familiar shapes and recognisable forms, linking our distant past to an imaginative contemporary narrative.

”Originality” traces its origins back to one Greek word, poesis, which Plato and others used to mean ‘something where before there was nothing’. Originality is a marker for time, it denotes the sudden appearance of something where before there was nothing…”

Richard Sennet, The Craftsman

Although these objects are reminiscent of stone-age idols, they have become a personal quest to test new ideas and push my limits . I am tempted to say that this process is akin to ritual, in reference to the spirit of man as maker. I’m not connoting a specific animal from the outset (to the blank block of optical crystal), but rather let the combination of shapes and process guide me to eventually reveal something familiar.

I have likened the process of carving these sculptural beasts to drawing within space, where my stone wheels are the proverbial charcoal and ochre and my studio the cave. It’s surprising how enormous this palette of shapes and textures can become…

My process starts by splitting a large block into a manageable size. Several drawings are made, searching for a desired shape, texture and rough “identity”.

I don’t have a preconceived animal in mind and rather let the notion of exploring new territory lead the way. Ironically, this sense of exploration is integral to my method of sculpting these precious beasts, which often results into new twists and turns during the process of making. It is this unpredictability which excites me! Each figure speaks its own “language”, with hints of an ancient yet familiar poem trickling through in some prehistoric dialect.

The little Amber Horse from Waldenberg also seems to continue the tradition of Palaeolithic realism…
…the ornamentation has no functional relation to the object on which it appears, its purpose is merely to embellish the surface. Since amber is a translucent substance, this also involves effects of light and shadow. …Amber was frequently used for amulets and other objects of adornment supposed to possess magical powers.

Walter Torbrügge, Prehistoric European Art (1968, Denmark)
The sculptural “evolution” of Sitting Lion

Precious Beasts are a quest to align craftsmanship and skills as quintessential to create something new from nothing. I want to ignite the flame of curiosity and imagination through my explorations, searching for that ancient magic which makes us human.

These works are a homage to woman and man as maker…

“All human languages and all human cultures seem to encode this bifurcation between the ‘I’ and the ‘me’… In this bifurcation of consciousness resides the ability of a postulated observer – living in the same body as the active doer, to self-reflect upon his or her own actions, as though they were being performed by another.”

E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh & William M. Fields, The evolution and the rise of human language (Carry the Baby), from Homo Symbolicus by Christopher S. Henshilwood and Francesco d’Errico (2011)

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