Can we go back to the beginning: when did you decide to pursue sculpture seriously?
I enrolled in an art history degree program without the faintest idea that it would lead to a career in carving stone. During my studies, I was exposed to the history of stone carving and I found it fascinating to think about how every single carved stone form in the world - no matter how simple or complicated, whether sculptural or architectural - had once been concealed within a solid mass of rock. That’s when my interest was piqued. Later, after trying stone carving for myself and discovering my deep passion for it, I decided to seek out opportunities to pursue carving seriously, first in the USA and then in Siena, Italy. Italy seemed like the obvious choice for my training because it is one of the few places still teaching traditional stone carving techniques, but it was also due to Italy's rich art and architectural history that I knew would nourish and inspire me. I knew that if I was going to take this artform seriously, then I had to commit to training that was more than theoretical. I needed to commit to learning proper stone carving techniques and processes.
Was it scary to leave home and dive head first into this kind of ancient apprenticeship?
Yes, well, there was certainly an element of risk involved. But, deep down, I knew the risk was really important for me to be able to grow. Stepping into a new culture, a new language, and with a new focus meant that I was going to be out of my comfort zone and, I hoped, open to new ways of thinking. Being uncomfortable, being an outsider, working to learn this ancient, solitary craft - that was all a part of the process.
Okay, real talk: what is it really like being a stone carver / sculptor in the 21st century?
I’ve been doing this for almost ten years now and it’s still hard. I have to seek out work. I’m constantly making proposals, constantly pitching ideas. That side of things can be very very tiring and it’s not always fruitful work. I can spend days or weeks on a proposal for a job which, ultimately, ends up getting rejected - that’s disheartening. Never knowing where the next job is coming from (and therefore the next payslip) is always a challenge. Not having a regular income to rely on and, therefore, being unable to plan long term is constantly a challenge, and this kind of uncertainty is a reality that I don't think I will ever get used to.
So, what would you say to others out there who might want to pursue an artistic career?
I would absolutely tell them to go for it. Despite the difficulties and uncertainties, it is so rewarding. You really have to persevere to make it work. If you do that, eventually, it will pay off. I've been working independently for nearly a decade and have had to struggle in pursuit of my passion the whole time. But I wouldn't change my experience for anything. It's absolutely the best thing I ever did.
What do you hope others will experience through the pieces you create and from your overall body of work?
I hope that people will come to see that marble is still a beautiful and fascinating artistic medium. It may not be as immediately accessible as painting or photography, but I hope that I can help people recognise that it can be every bit as relevant for the expression of ideas. I see it as a privilege to do this work and I find a lot of joy in it. I hope that also comes through.