Back in the day, I was a keen amateur sculptor. I was lucky enough to live in Oxford, England, where there is a strong tradition of carving and sculpture going back to the Middle Ages. There was a broad spectrum of adult education classes in the visual arts. I used to take my entire annual leave in Wednesday mornings, so that I could attend life sculpture classes. (Yes, I was still an employee — that’s how long ago it was.)
My favourite medium was wood. It is such a wonderful material for carving. The sculptor has to go with the flow, follow the wood’s infinitely varied nature – a product of its species-specific characteristics and the environment in which it grew as a tree: the cycle of the seasons, flood and drought, heat and frost, trauma from fungal and insect attack, etc.
Most of my life I’ve been involved in creative hobbies of one kind or another: drawing, woodcarving, sculpture, ceramics, music – and these days, writing fiction, of course.
Jewellery making is another craft that I wanted to try. A handcrafted piece of jewellery is a small thing, but potent with meaning. All the more so if you make it yourself, or if someone you love makes it for you.
I now have the chance. A new art and craft space has opened up in Drysdale, offering classes and workshops, and one of the artisans is John McAleer, a master jeweller with nearly 40 years’ experience.