Carving Out Some Time With Sara Heron
Sara Heron is an award-winning sculptor living in British Columbia. Having worked in many different mediums, she now works in stone. We asked her a few questions about stone-carving, her inspirations and of course, what she's been reading. You can see Sara's beautiful stonework available at Guildworks here.
As an artist you’ve worked in many different mediums. What attracted you to stone carving?
I’ve always loved stone and when I found a class that offered sculpting in stone it sounded most interesting - I was hooked from the moment I did my first piece. We worked in alabaster, which is a medium hard stone. I loved the process of reduction as opposed to the additive that I had worked with in clay. The idea of paring away, getting to the essence of form - the less is more message that has always resonated in my head.
Michelangelo reportedly said the shape was always [in the marble], he just carved away the extra bits. Do you see the sculpture in raw stone, or is it revealed to you as you chip away at it?
The stone has to speak to you. It will not allow you to redefine it to something that it does not contain. I truly believe that. There is a moment when you look at the raw stone and you say yes, this is the form that I can pull out of it. This is where I can go. Happy accidents occur when the stone reveals a form, an area, a dimension one was not aware of.
What tools do you use in your carving? Are these processes different for different types of stone?
As I work from home and live in an apartment with residents both above and below me, I use rasps rather than hammer and chisel - less noise! The result might be slower, but that suits me. With harder stone such as Onyx power tools are a must. Harder stones such as marble need a hammer and chisel to start the process, and eliminate the bulk.
A lot of your sculptures seem influenced by nature, particularly birds. Where do you draw inspiration? What feeds your creativity?
I have always been in the habit of picking up stones, pods, seeds, all sorts of what I think of as interesting detritus on my walks - I walk a great deal. I also find watching the various birds I encounter a source of delight. Their interaction, their form and their song lifts my spirit.
Stone-carving is an art form I think many would associate with being male-dominated. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that’s changing?
I don’t think of art in terms of what is male/female or what each can do - one does because one wants to create, to mark, to express something. The medium matters not.
For those curious and attracted to the idea of carving stone, what would be your advice? Where is a good starting point?
Take a class, or just start working - maybe with soapstone which is quite soft. Experiment. Look at forms, the positive and negative spaces of things as they relate to each other. Touch. Look at sculpture and at the play of light and shadow, of textures. See how things interrelate.
Who influences you as a sculptor?
Naturally Brancusi, Moore, Hepworth, Noguchi. I love Christo, Richard Serra, Richard Long, Andy Goldsworthy to name a few, but they are a different kind of delight.
With the pandemic affecting every aspect of our lives, has your creativity been impacted? If so, how?
Actually not. I’m petty much a loner. My life is consists mostly of work, walk and wonder - my 3 W’s as opposed to the 5 - who, what, where, when and why. I also read a great deal hence my life is very full. I do miss the occasional friendly hug and the sharing of a meal, but I consider myself very lucky with the friends and family I have.
What are you reading right now?
Rebecca Solnit - A Paradise Built in Hell - the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster. Trump and his cohorts, if they read, could learn a lot from her. I just love her - I find her a brilliant writer. I first fell in love with her writing/mind when I read Wanderlust which is a total must in case you have not yet read it.
Are there any books you’ve recently read you would recommend?
I’ve just finished reading Bill Buford's Dirt, which deals with his time in Lyons, France learning to cook, but his books are much more than cooking - they are about culture and friendship, love and family. They are serious and funny and wonderfully written. I read his book Heat, which deals with his time in Italy, when it first came out and highly recommend both. On a completely different note, Apeirogon by Colum McCann is an extraordinary novel that deals with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He manages to bring humanity to both parties.