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Stemma        2001     Tivoli travertine  12 x 33 x 46cm


' Stemma '  is the Italian term for a coat-of-arms, which in the Middle Ages were immortalized in stone and hung on the walls of the municipal buildings, representing the local 'podestas' or ruling Lords.

During my residency at Casole D'Elsa, I was inspired by the forms of these stemmas which generally have curled-up edges and a raised centre point. I also was intrigued by the tradition of hanging stone work on walls, which also applied to the street signs, as opposed to setting stone within the brickwork or as part of the any architectural feature.

My sculpture therefore concentrates on the abstract form of these plaques, but I also wanted to have a smooth internal form contrasting with a rough external form, to make the piece more of an artwork than just an exercise in stone masonry. I also had a brainwave in creating a speckled effect using sealant to imitate the speckled ceramic techniques popular in Tuscany, which I also found really appealing.

The stone I used, travertine, is used extensively in Italy for simple building details usually, not really for carving, but I really like its porous texture and I even managed to bring another block of it home with me, to work on in Manchester.