A trip to Shakespeare’s county, the stone merchant and home via Bristol

In July we packed up a hire van and headed up the M5 to Ragley Hall in Warwickshire and set up a temporary gallery at the CLA Game Fair, which hosts one of the biggest annual gatherings of animal and wildlife artists. Pete’s carvings were displayed on white plinths against a black backdrop, with the lion, crow, bittern and jack russell taking centre stage. Our neighbours in the Fine Art section of this huge show were figurative painters Michael Demain and Carl Bass, both of whom display their deep knowledge and understanding of birdlife and the countryside through brilliant and finely detailed paintings. We enjoyed sharing a barbeque and some cider with them, along with Carl’s wife Jo, at the end of long hot days.

After the show, we took a detour to Northamptonshire to visit Michael Owen at Nigel Owen stone workers and merchants. Michael holds the only stock in the country of English Alabaster, and also of Polyphant Stone, which comes from Cornwall. We’d been puzzled for a while as to why this well known Cornish stone was only available from the Midlands – but Michael told us the fascinating story behind how he came to own the Polyphant quarry – and how he now works it single-handed on his trips down to Cornwall. We brought home several treasures from Michael, including some Polyphant, a piece of white and red English Alabaster, a small piece of pure white Spanish Alabaster and a stunning fragment of ‘Frosterley Marble’. Pete has all sorts of ideas for pieces to make with the colours and textures of these stone – watch this space!

On the way back to Cornwall, we delivered Pete’s crow carving to its new home in Bristol. It was quite a wrench to leave the crow behind, but also great to see it in a beautiful new home where it will most definitely be appreciated and sit alongside lots of other pieces of art work.

 

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