Readers Showcase - Graham Biggs archive
Thursday 2 May 2013
We catch up with Woodcarving reader Graham Biggs to find out more about his life in carving
I have been carving for over 20 years. My love for working with wood starting when I did woodwork on the house extension, then the internal cupboards and shelves, then the tables and chairs and DIY for the family. I sold my garage business in the late 1980s and began working for a large distribution company. For the first time in over 20 years, I had time on my hands at evenings and weekends. I felt I had done all the utility jobs and family presents and I wanted to do something for myself that was just decorative.
I looked around and at that time some evening classes were offered by Glyn Mould - a professional woodcarver - in a village near my home. I joined and as they say, the rest is history. Glyn is still my mentor today.
My first carvings were all small and I found I had an aptitude for this hobby. I was completing a carving every few weeks. It was good fun; the tutor and the other pupils were good company.
In an issue of Woodcarving a small piece of wood was attached to the cover and they asked readers to carve it. I did and got a mention with my 'Ghostly Faces' carving. I think the comment was: â€A good use of the grain and figuring.â€
The BWAI joined the BWA and started to carve an exhibit for their competition, 'View Over the Welland Valley', an image from a 150mm cube of wood. Suffice to say, I did not finish it in time, but I found the result was a good effort. It is a favourite of mine and always creates much interest at local shows.
The carving classes I was attending were growing in popularity and number and with a few friends I started the Rockingham Forest Carvers region of the BWA and stayed as their leader. This widened my horizons and I met other woodcarvers. I improved my technique and expertise having been coached by Peter Benson, Dick Onians and attended West Dean College for two summer schools.
Rutland Open Studios
At a local art and carving exhibition I got talking to an exhibitor who was looking to start Rutland Open Studios. I was invited to join and have exhibited ever since, always getting at least one carving accepted for the annual exhibition. One year my 'Betsey' carving was voted as the most liked. Rutland Open Studios currently is about 80-strong. One of their initiatives is for each artist or group to open their studios each weekend during June. Through this display of my work I was invited to join the Welland Valley Art Society and was accepted as an exhibiting member. I have always had at least one carving exhibited at their annual selling show. During my time I have carved some trophies and mementoes for friends and family. The bookends above were for a family friend.
Style and inspirationMy icons are Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. All my carvings are from my own ideas or my own interpretation of a particular image. I then create the final piece as I carve the wood. Currently I am creating some very abstract works.
At present I do not have a style of carving but am leaning towards impressionism. I have carved a wave inspired by Japanese icon Hokusai.
I am very lucky that I have a large space in my garage which I have converted into a dry, warm and insulated workshop with all my tools to hand. Regarding tools, I have collected over 100 different gouges of all shapes and sizes. Nearly all old ones. Whilst I do not have a favourite, I find that often when working on a piece I use only a few gouges to carry out the majority of the shaping. When I think it is appropriate, I use power tools to speed up the process.
I have a large garden and some years ago took a course in garden design and redesigned the garden which I open to the public for charity. I am a founder member of Rutland sailing club and participate fully, being a senior sailing instructor and qualified offshore yacht skipper. I have taken a number of groups sailing in the Mediterranean. I also race my own yacht every week during the season and have won a number of trophies. I am also the archivist for the village where I live.