One of the pleasures of being a sculptor is getting to know the good people who have bought my work. One couple from that perceptive group recently contacted me to see if I could do anything with 2 very large sandstone slabs that they had unearthed during some building work. After a visit to their garden and a fair amount of head scratching I proposed that I create a sculpture featuring the four elements – Water, Fire, Earth and Air. I have to say now that this is not an original idea – I have seen one very formal carving and illustrations of other versions – but the idea was right for this stone and this setting.
When finished the two slabs would be set upright in the ground with a space between them. The left hand slab would have three lines of carving; the first line would show W, the second, F and the third EA. The right hand slab would also have three lines of carving aligned with the letters on the neighbouring slab; the first line would show TER, the second, RE and the third TH. The missing letters in the space between the slabs were A I and R – the fourth element. If you are a trifle confused, the pictures below will make it all clear.
That idea met with approval so the slabs were delivered to my place. Some heavy work was involved in getting the ‘inside edges’ of the slabs trued up and then it was a question of me getting down on my hands and knees to carry out the carving. As you can see below the letters have been carved for the three elements and down the side of the broader slab I have carved in an italic script “The four elements”.
The slabs were then taken to the site and propped upright so that I could crisp up the carving and paint the italic script. Then all that we had to do was set the 2 slabs into position so that everything lined up with the space in between just right. But that Cumbrian weather intervened- the rain set in with such a prolonged vengeance that it was not until the end of February that the ground was hard enough for our skilled local farmer to be able to bring in his machinery to lift and move the pieces into their allotted holes. An hour or so later we were tidying up the tools and taking the following picture.
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