Jason Ellis · Sculptor

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I have been carving stone for 35 years. I choose limestone, sandstone and marble for their texture, hardness and geological properties. The medium attracts me because of its permanence and inherent beauty, and I look for random blocks containing imperfections that can be exploited.

My sculpture is about material and form. I am asking the viewer to study the form, the space it occupies, the air it displaces. Primary sources for the work are found in Antiquity and the subconscious. I see the physical world in terms of shape and mass. I either carve directly or work from sketches and maquettes. There is often a point during the carving when the stone starts arguing back; this is the beginning of a dialogue wherein the object insists on alternatives to my original idea and is one of the moments in the creative process to which I am drawn.

My influences range from the generations of unnamed Egyptian & Greek carvers, through Donatello to the 20th century; Epstein, Arp, Brancusi, and more recently Gerda Frömel.

During the 20 years that I spent as a sculpture conservator, I was fortunate enough to work on stone carvings from the megalithic, medieval and modern periods. This exposure has imparted a deep understanding of the context of the object and the historical thread that links all artisans and artists who have ever worked stone.

I am not a conceptual artist; I am simply striving to release pure form from small pieces of the Earth’s crust. When the work goes badly it is mental torture; when it goes well it is like alchemy. Sculpting fulfils a fundamental need. It’s about geology, the displacement of air and extending the historical thread.


[Also, a long-winded article, ‘Becoming a better sculptor’, published in the Visual Artists’ News Sheet (Jan-Feb 2014 issue) – view or download a PDF of original here.]