This year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our woodcarving class have been unable to showcase all that they have learned from their Woodcarving Teacher, Peter O’Carroll.  They are all studying on-line from home which you can imagine has a number of obstacles when you are learning a practical subject like woodcarving.  However undeterred they have worked together over the last number of weeks, on a new project which Hannah Roche from the Kilkenny VTOS Woodcarving class explains in detail below.

Hey Guys! Hannah Roche here from the Woodcraft course! Peter asked us to share with you guys what we’ve been working on through Microsoft Teams – we were given a group project and he’s taken the liberty of being our chisel while we design and guide him through a carving to fit a brief he provided, so I’m going to send you guys pictures of what we’ve done and the step by step process of discussing ideas, and what we’ve achieved so far in terms of manifesting the sculpture! I hope you’re all keeping well, there’s photos and the explanations to come !

So, first we were asked to think about friendship, what it means to us and how we express friendship to the people we love. Keeping in mind social distancing, we were asked to consider how the current circumstances have affected how we express friendship, and how it’s changed the way we maintain or create friendships. We were asked to consider how we would express that through a sculpture, so we did that, we thought long and hard over the space of a weekend and regrouped after to discuss our ideas.

We had a few sketches of our ideas, the motif of hands kept repeating in our ideas, for example Joe had the idea of two hands 2metres apart, joined by a chain to represent our connections despite the distancing that’s enforced on us. Kevin had the idea of some simple figures, 2 metres apart with their arms reaching out but the distance preventing them from touching. The figures are in a circle to represent the globe, and the cycle of life. He suggested that then each figure be connected by an intricate web of fibres representative of the internet and our global connection surpassing the distance between us. His sketch has been included below;

My initial idea for the brief was two organic forms, closely intertwined but never touching, with a small space between them – the flowiness and organic nature of the shapes was to represent our ideal of friendship and relationships, free flowing and unrestricted, the intertwined nature of our lives with others, the synergy but absolute individualism of two friends coming together to form one energy – and the negative space to represent both the literal space between us, and the restrictions placed upon us, so close yet so far from those we rely on for human connection. (Sketch included below) We also played with the motif of hands, in a ‘God Creates Adam’ by Michelangelo esque fashion, two hands reaching towards each other but never quite touching – again to represent us reaching out for one another but being held away by the restrictions. (Also included below).

Orla discussed ideas of hands (it’s in your hands) and togetherness (we’re in this together), which are both generally associated with friendship and unity. She suggested a set of hands facing opposite from each other with a slight distance between them, each holding a coffee, to symbolise a recognisable social interaction just done differently. She also suggested the idea of four sets of hands, 2m apart, holding up a sign reading “we are all in this together”, to symbolise if you’re feeling lonely or alone that friends are feeling it to and none of us are alone. (No sketches)

After this conceptual stage we discussed our Ideas further and tried to bind them into one. After a brief video meeting, we had developed two ideas to narrow it down to, one was an idea of a 2m wide parkbench, carved with hands reaching out on the back panel to symbolise our new normal of social interaction; the other, “The Hug”, was the brainchild of Kevin, a simple sculpture of two separate figures joining into one, leaning into each other. After looking at the sketches we decided “The Hug” was the best and most effective way to express our brief and our ideas of friendship in these times (sketches below)

After deciding on The Hug as our group project piece, Kev took the liberty of developing them into clay figures to give us a better idea of how to translate the sketches into a 3D figure.

Peter then sent us photos of our material, which I then sketched the figures into the shape of the material in order to map out where Peter would need to make his first initial cuts

Peter then sketched the figures onto the material! Exciting times, preparing to cut and begin sculpting!

This is what we have done so far, we wanted to share it and try find a way to catalog what we were doing – our exhibition would have been the weekend past so we’re trying to make a virtual exhibition piece of our own to make up for the lost opportunity to share what we’ve learnt!