Carving Softness From Stone With Carol Crawford
‘I consider myself a late career artist,’ says Carol Crawford. This mature blooming hasn’t held Carol’s practice back at all. In fact, it’s ensured her style is confident and fluid – the perfect fusion of inspiration and intuition.
‘I always try to preserve the characters of the raw stone, as this is its innate personality,’ says Carol. ‘I do not try to inflict my opinion on it – rather, it is a soft and slow conversation, back and forth, until we are both happy with the finished form.’
Carol came to sculpting in the early 2000s, after she had children and after she had studied art history at university. The moment came to settle on stone sculpture when she enrolled in classes at renowned artist Tom Bass’s Erskenville atelier. More than a decade and a half after those initial lessons, she is now the chair of the Tom Bass Sculpture Studio School, which now runs as a not-for-profit.
Working with solid, intractable materials such as alabaster, bronze, soapstone, marble and plaster, Carol creates her spherical, feminine bodies. ‘Sharp edges and hard lines are abhorrent to me, as is measuring and exactness,’ she says. ‘Nothing is geometric about my sculptures. They are flowering and imperfect.’
To achieve her organic sculptural forms, Carol works patiently with her hand tools. Firstly, she wields a pneumatic hammer for the primary stages of chipping (which makes up 5% of the overall work), before moving on to hand files and rasps to slowly but surely unearth her curved forms within the stone. That is the magic of her skill, that these opaque, elemental substances seem soft and fleshy by the end.
Working with hand tools and a close ear to the essence of the work, the sculptures can take anywhere between a week and four or five months to complete.
‘I only know a sculpture is complete when my stomach feels settled – it’s quite a visceral feeling,’ she describes. ‘My output is very low, that is why each and every sculpture is very important and personal to me.’
And who better to capture Carol’s pursuits than her daughter, photographer Becca Crawford, who took these incredible images? What a talented family!
See more of Carol’s work here.