Elysium Memorials is a relatively new venture for me. When I’m not working on memorials, I’m a sculptor working mainly with stone and teacher of stone carving at my own Stone Carving Studio. I have a workshop in Holcombe, a couple of miles outside Radstock in Somerset, high on a hill in the middle of nowhere with distant views of Downside Abbey.
I’ve chipped away in this studio for the past 5 years, sharing it with one of the greatest stone carvers in the country, Derek Carr. He is 80 years old this December, and still comes to work in our dusty, draughty workshop every day, come rain or shine. His skill in carving figuratively is second to none, and it’s been a great privilege for me to work beside him and watch him in action. I’ve learnt an incredible amount just by observing his techniques. We’ve become good friends, and really enjoy each others company, and chew the fat regularly over obligatory cups of tea. Derek has recently been working on a seated figure of a naked young man, and I think it is probably the most beautiful piece I’ve seen of his. The sensitivity is of the carving is incredible, and he captures the awkwardness of youth perfectly. My photos don’t do it justice, but I thought you’d like to see this wonderful work.
A Date With Death
Working on Elysium Memorials has taken us to some interesting places, and we continue to meet more and more fascinating people. The Date With Death event hosted by the Centre of Death and Society at Bath University, took this to a whole new level. It was a networking event for all those involved professionally with the subject of death, and was run like a speed dating evening! We were placed with 3 others on a table, and we all had to give a 2 minute pitch about our areas of expertise. Once we had chatted to that table, a bell rang and we moved to the next. Break times gave the opportunity to search out anyone you found particularly interesting. The range of subjects was extraordinary, from people working in hospices, to celebrants, to the history of the cemetery, to forensic investigation, and everything in between. Some of the people we hooked up with were:
Bristol Museum Exhibition of Death
Heaven and Earth Funeral Directors www.heavenonearthbristol.co.uk
Arnos Vale Cemetery www.arnosvale.org.uk
Charles Cowling The Good Funeral Guide http://www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk
Making an Exit
Just a week later, on a dark and stormy night we ventured out to the Ebenezer Hall, down a narrow lane, next to the River Parrott in Burrowbridge, in the heart of the Somerset Levels. We were off to hear Sarah Murray talk about her book “Making an Exit”. Sarah is a journalist living in Frome and New York, and has researched the incredibly diverse range of ways people mark and celebrate death around the world, and captured the scale of a subject usually ignored. Sarah Constantinedes began the evening by welcoming everyone to her extraordinary home, and giving a description of her husband’s unconventional funeral earlier this year, which was a celebration of all his passions in life, and a very personal farewell.
Sarah then continued with a fascinating trip around the world looking at some of the fascinating ways people mark the death of a loved one.
This most enjoyable evening was rounded off with some very tasty home-made soup, warmly served up by The Ebenezer Chapel team before we headed back out into the night.