20 Minutes with Carrie Camann
Thursday 05 July 2012
Woodcarving catches up with Carrie Camann to find out what inspires her work
When did you start to carve?
I carved my first piece when I was 20. I responded to an ad for carving lessons, I was the only student and the teacher was neither instructive nor inspirational. I did somehow manage to carve a tall, abstract, curvilinear piece. I wish I could see it now but I have no idea what happened to it.
What inspires you when you carve?
In the past my pieces have been very personal. I carved from my heart and soul, whatever needed to be expressed. Now, in the second half of my life, I'm finding inspiration from my surroundings: the English garden and flowers and birds are recent themes. Right now I'm having fun exploring design and colour.
What are you currently working on?
A series of birds and very large candlesticks, both with textured, colourful surface designs. This is the first time I've been motivated to create pieces that might have popular appeal - i.e. are marketable. In the photo of me I am working on a candlestick.
Which tool wouldn't you be without and why?
My first, spontaneous answer is my hands! I marvel at what they can do. I love my Native American bent knives, because I used them in my early training.
Which is your preferred style of carving and why?
I don't adhere to any particular style. I just make things and the style looks after itself!
What do you think has been your biggest carving achievement?
When I first arrived in England I took on a commission for a house sign. I had no experience in lettering, or working in oak so it was a big challenge. The sign turned out well; it’s in public view on the roadside as you drive out of our village. I pass it often and it stands as a reminder of what I am capable of when I'm willing to take a risk.
Whose work do you most admire?
My husband, Chris Pye's work. Not only is he a fantastic carver but I get to watch both the internal and external processes, which are at least as admirable as the finished pieces, if not more so.
If you weren't a carver what would you be?
Carving has never been my career, though I can't imagine life without it. If not carving, I would have to be involved in some aspect of making, ceramics perhaps, or design. Gardens sound good.
Describe the view from your workshop.
When I'm carving, the rest of the visual world fades away. I only have eyes for my work. We live in the country and in the warm weather I love listening to the songbirds through the open windows. The rest of the time I listen to my favourite radio station WCLZ from Maine, USA.
Who would you most like to carve for?
My income has never come from carving, so I carve for myself. And I like carving for me! If someone were to take me on as a resident carver I would carve for a small community and have my carvings in the school, village hall, doctors surgery, footpaths etc.
What are your interests outside of carving?
The community where I live, cooking and gardening. I love exploring the Maine coast in my rowing dory.