|Boar - black limestone with hand carved design based on the Pictish Knocknagael and Dores Boar Stones from Inverness. ~ 270 x 165 x 20 mm|
Recently I've been a tad busy fulfilling commissions and stocking the website, but all the while, filtering into my dreams and subconscious thoughts, have come visions of dusting off my stone carving chisels again, and setting to....
Along came a day off......
There is an 'eternity' and timelessness to carving in stone. I imagine this is partly due to the material itself: undoubtedly ancient, apparently immutable, staring back at us with a memory longer than our kind has walked the earth, with stories a plenty, I'm sure....but I suspect it is more than this...
Our greatest mysteries seem to have been expressed in stone, left for us to puzzle over. Stone embodies this sense of 'something else,' something we may have lost....if only we could retrieve it...
Of course this is just our perception. Those ancient craftsmen and women probably expressed themselves in all manner of materials, I just associate stone with them, as it survives the millennia.
This also is not lost on me, it is, I suppose, my reaching for my own kind of eternity, and also a closer link to those who have come before me.
Despite all this, I have the notion that, if I can express in stone, I can express in anything. Carving stone is a metaphor for me, a metaphor for the notion that 'anything is possible.'
I digress....back to my day off.....
|Dores Pictish Boar Stone Photo By Kim Traynor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
I had a broken piece of black limestone that I decided was a perfect size for the design I had in mind, an adapted design based on a Pictish boar carving found in a field at Knocknagael Farm, on the outskirts of Inverness, which was moved in 1991 to the Highland Council's headquarters. The design is also very similar to a stone fragment found at Clune at Dores Inverness, dated from between 500 and 800 AD, which had been reused as a chimney-head.
So, I got out my tools, set out my design, and began....
The wild Boar was very important in the symbology of the Ancient Britons (Celts or Picts,) and researching this, the various attributes I discovered described by the various 'Symbology' sites cover several qualities: courage, fertility, wildness, stubbornness, fearlessness, strength, masculine power, shapeshifting, abundance, healing, otherworldly gifts....and I could go on. The attributes that began to concern me, however, were the qualities of wildness, fierceness, and stubbornness!
|I begin to appreciate the road ahead...|
|Boar with broken tail|
In the end, sore, dusty and weary, I did complete him. He ended up being carved a little deeper after I lost his tail, and I also decided that I would leave a 'rougher' finish than I had originally planned, in order to honour the battle we had had, by leaving some of its marks, (or should that read 'scars!')
Normally I am very ambivalent when I finish a piece of work. I feel this stems from the amount of time much of my work takes, and the intensity that I bring to bear. I often have to 'turn away' from a piece for a period of time before I can really appreciate it. It is a very love/hate type of relationship.
NB: I have deliberately not written much about the symbology and stories of the wild boar, and its importance to the people of these Isles, but it is a fascinating subject. If you would like to pursue it further I hope the sources below provide a good starting point.
Sources and further information
Pictish Boar Dores, Inverness:
National Museums Scotland
Pictish Stones and the Picts:
Celtic Boar Symbology:
Trees for Life: Mythology and Folklore of the Wild Boar