Hey Friends. I’ve got something really special to share. Recently the very talented Jo Dolby spent a day in the studio capturing my work on video, and here is the result! When she first showed me the film I was almost moved to tears it was so beautiful! Please take a mo’ to watch and please feel free to share. XI
I recently completed a restoration project for the National Trust at Stourhead, working with Cliveden Conservation Workshops. The inscription in the grotto had become illegible as people had worn away the last line of the Alexander Pope poem as they approached the spring. The project involved re-cutting the letters and giving them a sensitive colour wash to aid legibility. I spent four days on my knees in the dark damp cave, carving into the white marble slab. The lettering is a quite unusual sans serif form with a big variation in weight; ‘V’ cut for the narrow forms and flat bottomed for the thicker forms. The letters were the inspiration behind the National trust’s first bespoke typeface in 2009. On day three the photographer Steven Haywood took some publicity shots for the Trust. This involved me donning chest height waders and kneeling in the icy waters so Steven could get a shot of the carving with the statue of Ariadne as the backdrop. This has been a challenging and unusual project!
the Inscription is of Alexander Pope’s translation of a pseudo-classical poem and reads:
Nymph of the Grot these sacred spring I keep
And to the murmur of these water sleep
Ah spare my slumbers, gently tread the caveAnd drink in silence or in silence
And drink in silence or in silence lave.
I have a couple of pieces of work in an exhibition in a beautiful garden in Bradford on Avon. It is part of the Bradford on Avon Arts festival. We went to have a look at the garden last week and it really is a beautiful setting. I will be at the opening on Saturday night, 6 to 9.30. and I will be demonstrating letter carving on Sunday 19th from 11 to 4.30. Come and say hello if you can make it, or call in and see the show.
It’s been a little slack recently so I have finally had an opportunity to update the website. I have adjusted the categories and uploaded a whole heap of new images, and edited some out too. It is easy to get behind on this kind of activity when your so busy making stuff. I have also found it encouraging to look through new work from the last couple of years and to see how far I have come and all the interesting projects I have been involved with. If you have a moment please check out the new, improved iaincotton.co.uk
Here is one of the new additions. A really striking memorial in Portland and Kilkenny Stone for Kensal Green Cemetery in London.
I took a road trip way out East last week to deliver some sculptures to the Lettering Arts Centre at Snape Maltings near the Suffolk coast. The Lettering Arts Centre is run by the Lettering and Commemorative Arts Trust which also operates Memorials by Artists. It’s a bit of a trek to get over there from Bath but I wanted to see the space and meet the staff who I have exchanged emails and telephone conversations with. It’s nice to put faces to names. I put a couple of word sculptures in for their Christmas showcase exhibition which opened on Friday and runs until 22nd November. Us and Q are carved from some off-cuts of Hartham Park Bathstone I had lying around the workshop for many years, and continue my interest in words as sculpture.
I had a lovely lunch with Harriet Frazer who founded Memorials by Artists and who is one of the key people to have shaped my career as a lettering artist. She recently retired from running MbA after 27 years. There is a good article telling her story here.
Afterwards I made my way to the sea at Aldburgh, and sat on the shingle beach as the last light faded.
I spent the night in Cambridge and had a little wander round the next day before I went to visit a cycling friend from the Amos Roadclub, Kip Gresham, who runs The Print Studio. Kip works with all sorts of artists, some with international reputations, on their print making projects. The studio is a wonderful clean and well ordered space. It made me want to do some printmaking.
Then back home, enjoying the charms of the M4 along the way.
There is still time to see this exhibition which I have contributed to at the Street Road Project Space, USA, which closes on the 31st October. I worked on a project earlier in the year with the Japanese artist Kaori Homma called the Meridian Stone Project, which is being shown as part of “Sailing Stones”.
Kaori Says about the project:
“This project is an extension of Homma Meridian Projects an ongoing work which re-sites the Greenwich Prime Meridian in different locations around the globe, invoking the power-centered nature of demarcated boundaries and space. Homma’s Meridian Stone Project is an ongoing collaborative work: a stone taken from Street Road, and carved with the longitudinal coordinates 0º0’0’’ is mailed from artist to artist.
The result of artists’ contemplation will be seen as an installation as a part of inaugural exhibition at the Annex Barn at Street Road Project Space, USA.”
The Meridian Stones have traveled to Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hungary, Ivory Coast, UK, USA, Taiwan and New Zealand, and are still going to places handed from artists to artists around the world.
To find out more check out:
My contribution was to carve the longitude coordinates 0º 0’ 0’’on the stone and to take a photograph and write a text to accompany my image.
I was thinking about scale and placement. Where is this stone’s prime meridian? What are the right coordinates for these zero’s? How big should their footprint be? I was thinking about ellipses within ellipses, and figure/ground relationships, and little upside down right angled triangles connecting time and space. I was thinking about the clockwise and counter clockwise orbits of 3 mm of sharp tungsten. The rhythm of hammer on chisel. Breathing and being precise. I was thinking about hours, minutes and seconds. Not thinking about the time but remembering to count it. Carving time from my other deadline.
Spring is springing and the Easter holiday is nearly here – It is the season when people’s thoughts turn to their gardens. I am having a little publicity push on Garden sculpture commissions. I have been working on headstones all winter and although I like making memorials, as the sun begins to warm the earth, I feel the need to make some celebratory work. As we approach Good Friday, I reflect that my work through the winter has been focused on the theme of death. Easter Sunday is nearly here and I am looking forward to making some work which celebrates life.
If you would like to commission a sculpture or inscriptional art work for you garden please get in touch.