We cooperate as an association to advance the practice of sculpture and the reputation and appreciation of sculpture and sculptors in the community. This is regardless of whether or not we make a living from sculpture and regardless of our preferred style or medium. To this end we support artists’ moral rights, we advocate a professional attitude to the production and presentation of work and encourage the artistic and intellectual stimulation of interaction amongst artists of all persuasions.

The July Meeting

Susie Ashkenazi addressed the recent ASV meeting regarding her journey to the remote hills of Aragon in north eastern Spain to learn sculpting in stone. In July 2016 she joined ASV members Tania Stavovy, Clare Collins and Anna Auditore in Barcelona. The journey was planned on line through Global Stone who conduct the northern hemisphere summer classes in the tiny Spanish town of Canada De Bentatanduz. This particular workshop is run during the northern summer by Jon Sait; Welsh sculptor, poet, art dealer and teacher. The studio is in the spacious outdoor terrace of his rustic period house in an ancient village situated 1442 metres above sea level, being the second highest place in all of Spain. Jon named it Studio Golondrina after the native swallow that flies at that altitude. 
 There was a selection of local alabaster, softer marble and fine limestones to chose from so small blocks of either Italian or Spanish alabaster were chosen. These were of medium grade hardness.

The course’s aim was to instruct in the traditional art of hand stone carving without the benefit of electrical tools. This meant it was a slow and painstaking process using heavy tungsten tools. So fairly soon the concern was how the works in whatever stage of completion, could be transported back home to Australia. Working in the summer heat was tiring hard work. It took quite a few days to become accustomed to it. As the sculptures progressed they discovered the inherent beauty of the stone and its unique properties - the translucency of alabaster but also the ease with which it could be bruised and become cloudy. It was an intense experience as they shared a house, meal making, as well as the rhythm and hospitality of the charming village while trying to concentrate all efforts on learning the new craft. With a group of friends and the teacher’s good humour the days passed quickly. Trips were taken to explore the surrounding Moorish villages such as neighbouring Cantviejo, Mirambel and La Iglesuela del Cid. These were refreshingly empty of the massive tourist throngs found in other parts of Spain and Europe and made it pleasurable to wander through these charming streetscapes. At the end of the course all the participants felt satisfied , though when contemplating overseas sculpting courses one should consider the logistics of transportation of work. Ultimately, Susie left her unfinished piece behind due to the airline weight restrictions whilst the rest of the group found ways to take theirs home.

report Gordon Robertson

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