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The Comedy of Errors

Art Works: Mark Manders

30 April 13 words: Art works
"I’m an enthusiastic amateur, self taught and frustrated by lack of time and space to carve, but I’ll keep at it"
Pygmy Goat by Mark Manders

Pygmy Goat - a carving by Mark Manders

I first got into carving because I was bored and frustrated, the nine to five and weekend socialising wasn’t enough to make me happy. I was already spending the occasional Sunday building fences for the The Conservation Volunteers, but I want to do something more creative. So I contacted St Ann’s Community Orchard which is located in St Ann’s Allotments; the oldest and largest area of Victorian detached town gardens in the world. The general manager Richard Arkwright listened as I confessed to wanting to do something creative and suggested I have a go at carving some of the piles of wood they had laying around.

Mark Manders

Mark Manders

I got to work on a long thin trunk of ash, chipping away with a couple of wood chisels. Six days of solid carving, a pair of sore shoulders and one deep cut to the thumb later I had produced my first wood carving. It was a two-pronged fern leaf - simple in design but aesthetically pleasing. I was wary of how long it took and my thoughts turned to the rather large, angry looking chainsaw in one of Richard’s lock ups. Three days, two scares later, my head was swimming with carbon monoxide fumes but I had my second carving; a four foot tall sanded and varnished group of fungi. I felt I was definitely onto something and I had a sense connection to my local community.

The goat carving was done two years later, this time for Farm Eco. I wanted to carve a piece for the entrance to the farm and drew inspiration from the pygmy goats they keep. If you are looking for an adorable and very sociable animal then look no further. But beware, the pygmy goat likes nothing more than the taste of flesh flowers and gets terribly lonely if left without a companion.

Working on a larger scale than I was used to promoted full body movements whilst carving - almost like Tai Chi with a saw - where large confident slices could be taken with the chainsaw and sweeping arcs of wood removed and sanded away with an angle grinder. The key is to carve the basic, almost boxy shape with a chainsaw and then connect with the subject as best you can, then finishing it with delicate honing and sanding.

I’m an enthusiastic amateur, self taught and frustrated by the weather / lack of time and space to carve, but I’ll keep at it. And who knows, maybe one day produce something really very special.

Mark Manders website

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