I often have a hankering to do something different, and although this year of 2020 has certainly been different… not in the way I or anyone else had hoped I think. So my need to experience something new was still not far away, hence I was rather glad that at the beginning of the year I had booked a place on a one day taste of sculpture workshop in Devon. A chance to try something new….
The Sculpture School is near North Tawton, buried deep in the Devonshire countryside, but easily reached (with the help of a sat nav).
I stayed over the night before in The Waie Inn in the fabulously named hamlet of Zeal Monachorum. A reasonably priced, scrupulously clean hotel that is fully equipped with an indoor swimming pool (which I had to myself for my pre brekkie dip), and a decent pub serving rather tasty food.
A 15 minute drive from the Waie Inn (via the coop in Bow to pick up something for lunch) gets you to The Sculpture School and I arrived with some trepidation, ready to try my hand at sculpture for the very first time. The ‘school’ itself is held in one of their great big, well equipped barns, and you are aptly surrounded by the fabulous work of Andrew Sinclair, the artist behind the school and the sculptor in residence. The four alpacas that keep a watchful eye on the parking area are an added bonus; Pablo, Couscous, Cappuchino and the wonderfully named Sexy Gary peer over the fence with a nonchalance only some can muster.
Entering the main barn, you are greeted with a friendly smile, a good squirt of antibacterial hand gel, and a cup of tea. I was one of 6 intrepid would-be sculpturers at the workshop, which runs for a full day starting at 10.30am. We were sat in a big semi circle around the master at work, each of us on a stool, with our own adjustable stand for working on and a huge individual toolkit that housed a tupperware box of clay and a pristine set of tools, with which we were tasked to work our magic!! The various props that are used to inform and highlight the lesson include a rather grim curiosity cabinet, that would be at home in a gruesome victorian drawing room I think.
Andrew Sinclair led the class. He is a really gifted artist, but still patiently took us complete novices through the steps towards creating a ‘generic human’ head out of clay. Starting with a copper stick on a plinth I must admit I was doubtful as to whether it would look human at all, but step by step all of our creations started to take shape.
We had little break to eat our picnic lunch and also had the joy of a guided tour, which was fascinating. There are huge, considerably larger than life figures, alongside small intricate designs, various fantasy figures, a big yellow duck and much much more. It is quite a surreal experience.
A fascinating glimpse into a creators world, that most of us know so little about. The space, the equipment, the size of some of the pieces … astounding…
But back to basics, and the Generic Human job in hand continued to be patiently instructed, guided and encouraged. We all continued to build our own personal sculpture….
I was pretty pleased with the end result. I am not sure who he is, but he is definitely human, so that’s a start anyway.
The taste of sculpture workshop is £65, it is a full, fun and uplifting day, one I really enjoyed. I want more tastes of this sculpture lark that’s for sure.