Maureen Hockley archive

Thursday 27 November 2008

Maureen Hockley tells us about some of her carving collection

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Photo 1: Derek George's kingfishers

I started purchasing woodcarvings some time before I took up carving, but only recently began to suspect I had a 'collection'. I first saw Derek George's carvings in issue 7 of Woodcarving and fell in love with a tern, carved from ash, which featured in the article. I visited his home in Hampshire and came away with a barn owl in sycamore, an albatross in wamara and the promise of a tern similar to that as featured in Woodcarving. Derek has the gift of being able to suggest detail of a creature by using natural characteristics of the wood he uses. He studies grain, annual rings and medulla rays of a piece of timber and 'sees' the bird or animal inside just waiting to be revealed. Once I had received the tern I showed Derek a piece of mulga that my husband had brought back from Australia during the 1950s and asked if he could carve a bird from it. The piece was only about 4in diameter but he studied it carefully before declaring it contained a pair of kingfishers. Within a few weeks he had found these two small birds and released them!

Photo 2: "Johnson"

I inherited Johnson from my in-laws. My husband's grandfather was owed a sum of money by a Mr Johnson who, being short of funds, cleared his debt with this woodcarving. He is oak with a detachable tray for letters and now watches over me while I work at my PC. I believe this style of letter tray was once quite popular, but apart from a similar figure in an antique shop in Clare, Essex, I have never seen another piece like him.

Photo 3: Derek George's Albatross

This is another of Derek George's carvings; this albatross carving has a wingspan of 10 1/2in. I found a leaflet given to me by Derek when I bought the first carving and feel it is worth quoting part of it.

"As a wood sculptor it is the life rings of the tree with its varying patterns that inspire my work. I search endlessly for unique markings in the grain that will match the plumage of birds or the flowing lines of dolphins and whales. Food cells in the heartwood provide peculiar markings that can be exploited to represent spotted or striped fish or animals for those who have an eye to see it. It's rather like searching for the uncut diamond or the pearl in the oyster. The search is wasteful of time and material but there is no other way to find nature's gems."

Photos 4 & 5: Jonathan Fearnhead's nude figure

I own two very different nude female figures, and this one by Jonathan Fearnhead is carved in lime, about 16in tall and has not been sanded. This figure has a smooth, soft elegance about it with emphasis on accurate anatomy, fine detail and an incredibly high standard of finish. I have attended carving lessons with Jonathan and he stresses that no amount of craftsmanship or fine detailing can disguise a poor, lifeless design.

Photo 6: Paul Hornbuckle's Indian head

This Indian head was purchased in Cody and carved in redwood by a Cherokee Indian who signed himself Paul Hornbuckle. This was typical of the carvings I discovered during my visit to America and, unfortunately, I did not see any demonstrators so have no idea what tools were used to produce this piece.

Photo 7: John Marriott's horse

With the arrival of my first grandchild I fulfilled an ambition to own a rocking horse. Many of John Marriott's horses were sold to American service personnel serving in the UK so have been taken out of this country, but I saw his work at Hatfield House Living Crafts and thought his horses were some of the most attractive I had seen. Mine is medium-size made from laminated marine ply, so is comfortable in a centrally heated house, unlike the traditional box construction that tends to open up in dry heat. I saw John's work at a craft show recently and learned that he is still producing a dozen or so horses a year.

Photo 8: David Patrick-Brown's duck

Looking back through early issues of Woodcarving, I found David Patrick-Brown featured in a number of articles, but when I bought his three-quarter size painted pintail six or seven years before I started carving, I had no idea that he was considered one of the top bird carvers. I watched him carving at a number of craft fairs and have been fascinated by his skill and attention to detail. I often wish I had been able to purchase one of his unpainted birds, too.

Woodworkers Institute

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Maureen Hockley , Europe , Collection

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"I started purchasing woodcarvings some time before I took up carving, but only recently began to suspect I had a collection"

Close-up of "Johnson" (PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE AUTHOR)