About Anthony Griffiths
I trained at the Bournville School of Art (Foundation Course) and Bath Academy of Art (BA Hons) in the early 1980’s where I studied how to carve wood, model clay, cast in plaster and try other sculpture techniques. From 1986, I worked as a commercial wood carver specialising in traditional interior architectural carving (fireplaces, doorways, mirror surrounds and restoration work) for Ray Coggins interiors. In 1995 I moved from Wiltshire to Somerset, to the old primary school in Walton. This became a permanent workshop, exhibition and living space for me.
In the 1980’s and early 1990’s I worked mainly from life and carved a series of life sized seated and over life sized groups of figures in beech and cedar of Lebanon wood. I completed several figurative and portrait commissions in both wood and bronze. From 1986 to 2007, as a commercial carver, I recreated 18th & 19th century classical style carvings.
The flower carvings started in 1993. Interestingly, whatever I was trying to express with the figure carvings, I found much easier to convey via the flower pieces. They seemed to have a visceral quality, lacking in the figures. They could also be languid and full of life. By the end of the 1990’s the flower carvings developed into a more simplified and abstract style, and in early 2000 they became completely abstract, reduced to looping and repetitive forms and movement. Within a short time, I found that what I had wished to carve in wood was no longer possible, as the forms had become too thin and brittle to carve. So, I started to model the sculptures in wax and casted them in bronze and aluminium using the traditional “lost wax” process. Initially, I made a small bronze furnace in a shed in the garden and used the kiln for firing the moulds (to remove the wax). Later, I made a much larger furnace and kiln and worked from a barn in a nearby field. This continued until 2007.
My work has been exhibited at the Beaux Arts gallery in Bath and in Gloucester Cathedral. I have also fulfilled commissions for the Houses of Parliament, Conock Manor, Devizes, and for Highgrove, where I created a pair of carved benches for HRH the Prince of Wales. I also sculpted the former Southampton Mayor John Le Fleming which can be seen in Southampton’s Castleway.
To view my wood carvings, please visit Anthony Griffiths’ Wood Carvings
Wood carving classes
Having carved wood for so many years, I felt that it would be inspiring to share the experience of carving, the discipline of the different techniques and working qualities of the variety of amazing timbers. After spending some time making the benches, vices, turning mallets, buying gouges and fitting out one of the class rooms and a machine room, I was ready to start in the autumn of 1998.
Enthusiasm made up for my lack of teaching experience (a little later, I completed a teacher training course and also a health and safety course).
The woodcarving classes started with just one evening a week with 8 carvers and over the years it grew to 7 adult classes, 2 clay portrait classes and 2 children’s classes each week.
Many carvers have come through the doors and a lot of them have stayed with us for several years. It has been such a pleasure to see their work develop, the support they give to each other and their excitement and anticipation at starting a new project. Several local carvers had attended the old school as children - a local farmer at the end of the first class picked up a brush to sweep up his chippings and said that the last time he had swept the floor was 60 years ago as a child at the school. His daughter (also attending the class) then remarked that she had swept the class room 30 years ago!
The children’s carving classes have also been such a joy to do, several neighbours children and the children and grandchildren of our regular wood carvers have attended these classes. Their woodcarvings are like their drawings, coming up with fresh spontaneous ideas.
See Students’ Carvings
I have also taught wood carving at Shute Farm Studio, near Frome and carved a Green man at Glastonbury Abbey.
Throughout our childhood my brother and I would accompany our mother to St Davids for a week every Easter holiday, where she supervised a marine study field trip for teacher training students from Birmingham (where we lived). This developed our love for Pembrokeshire. For 16 years my brother lived and taught landscape painting classes around the St Davids peninsular.
Since 2014, I have divided my week between teaching in Walton and living in Stackpole, creating a carving workshop.
What to expect on the first class
After a tour of the workshop, there will be an illustrated introduction talk on different types of carving, explore subjects suitable for beginners and guidance through the different stages of the project.
During some tea breaks there will be illustrated talks on the basic language of form, looking at a variety of different wood carvings to further and deepen understanding and appreciation of the art of wood carving. We also have a session towards the end of each term on how to sharpen gouges and look at the different types of beginners carving tools manufacturers. All tools are provided.
Apart from woodcarving I like walking, swims in the sea (all year round), gardening and meditation.
Please contact me for a chat, if you would like to consider enrolling in a future course. Don’t worry if you have never done any carving before. Many students who have not been creative for many years (since school usually!) produce good carvings and learn to enjoy the language of wood. It’s also a chance to escape from modern technology and its pressures and return to a more gentle interaction with a traditional craft.
Tel: 01646 672626