Wayne Hart – a driven young carver of stone

Before meeting Wayne Hart, I thought he was going to be much older than he was – he sounded so confident. He is in fact just over 30, but looks younger. He comes across as a highly organised, focused ardent carver of stone. He is also a typographer and sculptor.

When he carves his first last is slate: carvers tend to like slate above all else. Hart says, “I like slate because it possible to achieve very fine detail such as hairlines and serifs.”

Hart grew up in King’s Lynn and spent lots of time with his grandmother who has always enjoyed art, including calligraphy and watercolour. He and his sister would always be drawing, painting and baking when visiting her. He had an early ability in art noted in school and is an example of what you can achieve if you have a long term goal and the will and determination to aim high.

Finding the exact right path

 Not that Hart’s path to carving has been linear. He originally trained as a graphic designer and completed the BTEC National Diploma in graphic design. It was after that he began to concentrate on lettering and going to Reading University to read typography.

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Wayne Hart – letter aware from an early age.

He has worked with great dedication on carving of letters ever since, but his approach is diverse, he is always seeking ways to add to his skills and knowledge.

This summer he will attend a postgraduate course in Roman epigraphy at the British School of Rome, studying Italian inscriptions and the Roman letterform. He won a scholarship to do this from the Harriet Fraser Bursary.

He is a role model for anyone wishing to finance their way through college. He has raised over £30,000 (£24,000 was for his apprenticeship) to help finance him through training.

 All about training and practise, practise, practise

With his degree from Reading he met various lettering artists and managed to land three weeks work experience with carver Richard Kindersley at his London studio.

He was an apprentice as a carver for three years in Cumbria, studying under Pip Hall. He learnt to draw and carve lettering and continued to practise calligraphy.

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Carving in wood – another discipline.

This time one task meant his embarking on a ‘letter carving in wood’ course with Martin Wenham at the College of West Dean, Sussex. There he worked on signage, memorials, commemorative gifts and also participated in six public art projects. These included thirty carved benches commissioned by Sheffield City Council.

“The first year of my apprenticeship was funded by the Lettering & Commemorative Arts Trust. It is the only organisation in this country that champions excellence in the lettering arts. It brings together artists and the public together via training programmes, apprenticeships, events and original commissions,” explains Hart with enthusiasm. He is a trustee of the Manchester Craft & Design Centre.

While he was an apprentice he forged links with various important institutions. In 2017 he was commissioned to carry out the lettering on C S Lewis’s memorial, laid out on the floor, of Westminster Abbey.

He also undertook the carving of Dame Edith Cavell’s memorial ledger and headstone, just outside Norwich Cathedral, where she is buried: “I carved the edelweiss on her headstone. It was based on the badge she helped to design that her nurses used to wear, “says Hart.

A dislike of the ubiquitous granite head stone

 One carver commented that he did not enjoy carving Cumbrian Green slate, it was good but a bit ‘glassy’, but Hart enjoys it and he works with it a lot.

Hart likes to work with Kilkenny limestone. He abhors granite shipped from China, because he wants to keep his wrists ‘working for a long time’. Granite is very hard to chisel. The monumental masons who sell quantities of granite head stones to the bereaved do so because it is cheap, using sandblasting for lettering mostly.

Hart points out that, “A carver is able to take a flexible approach to the stone, unlike monumental mason’s granite machine-cutting which tends to be very square, and there is no variation or flexibility.”

He says that mass produced head stones often have an unsuitable type face for example, Times New Roman (which was designed to be read in a small font for newspaper columns), and the letters are all the same size which is a great constraint.

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Some examples for Hart’s lettering and style –  for all manner of  letter work.

Hart likes to use local British stone where possible, and Italian marble and alternatives where necessary.

 

Creating a memorial for a loved one

 Hiring Wayne Hart to carve a memorial would be a luxury for most people, but sometimes the extra can be worth it. He charges per letter, as with any bespoke carving.  Bespoke carving for a grave stone is likely to cost in the region of £2,000 – £5,000 upwards.

There are a lot of decisions to be made by carver and client, to produce a pleasing finished product that both are happy with. There is the type of stone to consider -granite is value, sandstone is middling, and slate is the most expensive.

Grave yard regulations have to be observed, such as height restrictions to tomb stones, stone types and anything out of the ordinary will need to go to ‘faculty’, and can involve a series of ecclesiastical permissions.

Then there is the choosing the stone itself and the carving with a choice of many different letter forms. Carvers use letter forms, not typefaces, as all styles are drawn by hand straight from the mind, and even the same style can vary from work to work.

“I was greatly influenced by my apprenticeship mentor, Pip Hall. My fluid lettering definitely stems from her,” comments Hart.

His style continues to evolve and he enjoys designing fresh lettering styles that fit each brief.

“Carving is slow and precise. Funnily enough, it isn’t that likely an experienced carver would make a mistake while carving, like you would when writing a letter for example. If you know what you’re doing you can get out of a mistake, see it coming as it were,” he adds.

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Hart on slate: it could be a memorial or for a grave.

Hart works hard at the business of being a professional carver, he is a natural net worker in a very ‘word of mouth’ profession. He is dedicated to his profession, working from his studio in Manchester. He loves what he does.

He says simply, “I want to be an artist”. He must be doing something right as he says he’s always got work  and some of it high profile. Happy man, he is at the beginning of many years working away at perfection.

 

 

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