sculpture and drawing

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EPIC River Project - Feature Wood Carvings

The carved sculptures refer to the history, mythology and  wildlife at the site and are intended to help provide focus and identity.


Three feature woodcarvings were created for the site between January 2020 and May 2021 when they were installed on site.  Each is carved in green (unseasoned) oak.  They were designed early in 2020. The designs evolved from the research and community phase of the project during 2019.  

The oak was delivered in April 2020 during the first Covid lockdown.  Each has taken 4 or 5 months and has been  created in parallel to the events of this most difficult year.  
They have represented hope for myself as an artist and maybe now they represent hope for the future of the EPIC site.
  The first oak feature carving was complete 6th July 2020
It is called Teaching the Sompting Fishermen

In the distant past Sompting was under the sea and fishing would have taken place this far inland  

In the church, which is visible from this location, is a stone-carved sculpture of St Wilfrid.  St Wilfrid was a bishop who arrived in Sussex via Selsea.  He wanted to convert the local people to Christianity and found that teaching them something more practical than religion was a way of gaining their trust.  He taught them fishing and so, legend has it, Christianity came to the Saxons in Sussex 

The sculpture is in a boat shape with water lapping at the back.  The Bishop is represented by a crozier (staff) coming from the fishing net (or is it something more fishy?)

In 12th - 14th centuries the  Knights Templar Crusaders ran the Sompting church and funded two chapels.  They were talked about several times in the workshops by local people.  I have read that people believe that these Knights guard their property in death and that they still have a presence in  the churchyard here.  I have represented them in the form of a Maltese cross.

The river is behind the sculpture in this view


The Water Bench is to the left in the distance and the river to the right
The second oak feature sculpture was completed late in December 2020
It is called Flying Predators

This carving is about eating and being eaten. Populations of creatures and plants balance themselves out in this way even if it can seem a very cruel process.

The flying predator here is a barn owl but represents all flying predators, including herons, bats, kingfishers, dragonflies, which are attracted to the environment of the river.


The whole sculpture shape is a feather, the plants at the bottom are arrowheads and on the back stylized iris leaves.  There are water ripples all round the form of the sculpture.

  On the back of the Flying Predator carving is a wheel showing some victims that make up the diet of flying creatures




Each image represents a type more than their exact species, but what is shown here is - 
clockwise from the top:
water plantain, cinnabar moth caterpillar, frog tadpole, harvest mouse, burnet moth, frog, damsel fly, perch

We saw this caterpillar in an early visit, the perch arrived with the first flow of water, water plantain moved in very early (I took photos to identify it)


  The third feature carving is 
River Life Force 

it was finally finished on site in May 2021
  I often represent the force of nature as a mythological creature.  Here the force of water flowing from chalk Downland on to form rivers, springs and puddles is represented as the Knucker or water dragon which has been much talked about during the project.  



Knuckers are watery dragons that live in deep springs that rise in flat areas of the chalk landscape, particularly in Sussex.  There is a ‘knucker hole’ spring very close to this new river, which I have seen some time ago.  Although it is quite small, the water is so deep that you cannot see the bottom and if you look in, it seems to pull you down.   I see the knucker as a life force and guardian of the water source as well as a threat.  Much as nature can be cruel to find a positive balance

Other creatures that appear on this sculpture are mostly self explanatory but the eels are here as real ones arrived very early in the river project.  They eat eggs which are a good shape for carving.  

I experimented with ripple patterns again here.   Repeating but organically changing pattern can work well in carving. 


Click here for pictures of the carvings in progress at the studio.

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