A day of contrasts. A visit to Soho, central London today. A long, boozy lunch, the sort of lunch that would have been commonplace in the 80’s, with an enjoyable talk with a friend about the state of publishing, ideas for new ventures and a catch up about shared colleagues. Them taking advantage of the location, and with the need to slightly sober up, I walked down to St.James church in Piccadilly, to see the Grinling Gibbons carvings I’d read about in David Esterly’s book.
Words can’t really express how amazing this work is, so I won’t even try. Some better pics than my poor phone pictures, can be seen on Flickr here.
I’m currently reading ‘The Lost Carving‘ by celebrated wood carver David Esterly. Whilst I have to admit to speed-reading large chunks of it, (I just want to read about the technique and tools), it’s a nice insight into a wood-carver’s life.
When fire destroyed a good chunk of Hampton Court Palace in March 1986, the damage also reached a number of celebrated carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
Having turned away from academia, Esterly had already dedicated his life largely to carving, and the opportunity to help in the Hampton Court restoration was too good an opportunity to miss. So starts quite an interesting read (if a little over-romanticised for me personally), where David struggles with technique, the balance of recreating parts of the carvings, and the internal politics that surrounds the various societies responsible for organising the restoration.
I’d recommend the book, to a certain extent, if only to learn more about the techniques that this sort of deep ornamental sculpture demands.
David has very helpfully compiled a list of supplemental images, which illustrate the book very well, and I personally found them very interesting.