Long ago, prior to the swift, dramatic, and irreversible digitization of photography, many if not most people’s day-to-day dealings went decidedly unphotographed. Holidays, weddings, and the odd birthday aside, most working class people tended to regard a rare snooping camera lens with more suspicion then anything else. “Oooh no ! How me hair must look“. Consequently few if any pictures survive to this day of anyone I know – or knew back then – actually working. And certainly none alluding to the results of their endeavors. In my own case for instance, no visual evidence exists to document my five year National Geographical Association Type Compositor Apprenticeship. Even as I plowed my way around the Pacific North West as a chauffeur and tour guide in the 1990s, the camera seldom faced my way as it clicked – usually the panoramic view, or me taking a picture of my smiling passengers. Taking pictures ‘for no real reason‘ just wasn’t done. Not like today whereby every moment is not only captured, but captured on moving video. Nope, of all the miles of columns of type that I composed, not so much as a single snap of a single one exists. And why should it? Workmen work, typists type, bus drivers drive. And so it was the day that I completed my (stonecraft) Banker Masonry NVQ Level 2. It was, in many regards, simply a day like many (a great many) days of graft, hard work and toil preceding it. But what made this day different, and this work unlike anything I had previously attempted, is that these few pieces, along with a scattering of letter carving and decorative pieces, were to pave the wave for everything that my two hands have carved since. And that prior to my squaring the block at the City of Bath College, back in 2000, had I not stuck with the program, nothing, not a single piece of my hand carved sculpture, would be in existence today, let alone the countless fireplaces, lintels, entrance signs, fountains, standing stones, even my signature Hand Carved Marble Bowls. In other words, these few pieces of limestone constitute the most important sculpture ever to have been carved by my own two hands, and yet all I have to show for it are a few simple snapshots.
However, something must have told me to take a camera that day, for unlike the finished block after finished block of masonry that I was destined to go on to carve, those few bits of masonry, so proudly carved by my own hands, were to usher in a major turning point in my life. For whether I knew it or not, I was now embarked upon – earmarked you might say – to become a stone sculptor. Or in other words, without knowing it I had stumbled across my life’s calling. Furthermore, to my delight, I found that I was actually pretty good at it too, which was a nice feeling.
As the wave of digitization swept control of our lives I still found myself loathed to photograph practically everything, all the time, as appears to be the norm right now, even as a once rather costly hobby of mine promptly pronounced itself practically free. Social media opened the floodgates to photography in a way that I suspect none of us could have imagined. Scant however are the photos of my early work, as indeed that is how I saw it: work. A couple of quick shots here and there, every now and then, seemed to suffice. It just never really occurred to me to document everything. Why would I?
Carving stone, especially using the Direct Method that I employ, requires, nay demands, complete and utter concentration at all times. For “when it’s gone, it’s gone”, as they say, and “it – the stone – ain’t coming back”. Indeed I would go as far as to say that a concentration bordering meditative is required at practically all times, and through all stages of the carving process. Photography therefore, even in today’s digital age, takes a rather distant back seat once the marble dust, shards and pitched-off chunks begin to fill the air.
As my career as a stone carving sculptor was to develop I forced myself to make whatever documentation I could muster. Consequently pretty much everything of any real substance, dating back to around 2008, has been fairly well covered. But with the creation of my Maiden Collection, back in the autumn of 2011, all was to change.
With the arrival of The Maiden Collection my sculptural journey was to attain quite unprecedented levels of documentation. For not only was each of the 41 sculptures photographed, cataloged and serial numbered, but each piece was to receive its own martincooney.com Home Page, along with an entire page in my ongoing Marble Sculpture Collection Series Catalog AtoZ.
Consequently, what sets my Collections Series Marble Sculpture apart from that of my other work, is the sheer extent to which it is documented.
And so, now you have it. “What is all this Collection Series Marble Sculpture” I heard you wondering.
Well, aside from the sheer amount of work, experience and physical will it takes to carve, you also now know just how all-encompassing is its very public documentation.
Please do stop by THE KMJ, 111 AABC Suite D, Aspen, Colorado, at the next opportunity. We’ll continue this discussion at length, and I’ll have the chance to convince you that the future of marble sculpture is “light, portable, and carved for full immersion in the real world”.
Meanwhile, thanks for visiting martincooney.com
~ ~ ~
~ λ •