Dawn by William Reid Dick

I like this carving of a sleeping child, and the neat wrapping of the head with folds of fabric. The stone is given a nice fleshy quality and the carving feels as if its been done so tenderly, as the artist literally felt his way around and over the folds of the child’s head. The contrast with the base highlights the beautiful smoothness of the marble’s surface. Stone made into flesh. I don’t know if the title is the name of the sculptor’s daughter or alluding to new life. 

Portrait of a baby in Carrara marble, direct carved using hand tools

Portrait sculpture in carrara marble by british portrait artist Matt Harvey. Commissioned in 2013
Miki, Carrara marble – This was a portrait commission for a marble bust of a child. Carved over one month in hand tools, working directly from photo references

Alice’ carved in Carrara Marble. 20x25x20cm. The sculpture is created from photos – One master photo, and then others to guide the 3D form. When someone smiles the cheeks get pulled up, they then narrow the eyes, the ears get pulled a bit, the neck creases.. All these things need to be pulled together at the same time to create the piece. Working in stone always makes me think of a Nichiren Buddhist quote: ‘It is like the case of a fishing net: though the net is composed of innumerable small meshes,when one pulls on the main cord of the net, thereare no meshes that do not move. Or it is like a garment: though the garment is composed of countless tiny threads, when one pulls on a corner of the garment, there are no threads that are not drawn along.’ The 2 milk teeth were fun to carve, but I need to get some really small chisels to carve inside the mouth

Working on ‘Alice’ – Usually I’m wearing a huge mask, and you can see I’m being showered with little chips of stone in a dust cloud. I use a nylon mallet, which shouldn’t be so misshapen, but for some abuse with the wrong chisels. Hammer headed chisels have a very small end to them which leaves dents in the mallet when you are really hitting it. Mallet headed ones are best but this mallet has served me well for 23 years and has a few more million hits in it yet (as long as the handle holds out)! 

Matt Harvey – Jamie, Carrara marble 30x25x30cm

In contrast to Republican portraits this is a happier one I carved of a boy called Jamie. Children generally won’t sit still for very long even if you ask nicely! So it is very difficult to do any drawings. So I take lots of photos while they run around just being themselves, as well as trying to get a few ‘portrait’ shots. With a couple of key photos as points of reference I use the others to gauge how the sitter would look in the round.  I constantly refer to all these to carve the portrait in marble.

I came across this portrait bust of a man [Roman 1st Century BCE] the other day online, in the Met’s great collection. Some of my favourite Roman portraiture is Republican. If you like the ‘lived in’ face look, no one did it like these guys. Long days at the office and on the battlefield really took their toll on a person. And this is what the society of the day expected their artists to depict, as they were the values of the time. Devotion to the Republic has really upset him, and that’s a good thing, as no one likes a frivolous politician. It still seems strange to have your face eternally carved into stone with this expression. I’m sure he also had a sense of humour but that’s not what people wanted to see. He couldn’t have been a very serious politician or soldier if he did.

This is a photo of me using a ‘point’ to carve out large quantities of marble from a block to create a portrait. I’m using a mallet to hit the point – I’ve always preferred one to a hammer, less noisy. I can cut lines along the surface of the stone and smash off big lumps as I go. Its noisy and dusty work!