Sculpture Saturday

This weekly challenge is hosted by Mind Over Memory

When the great storm of 1987 raged across the country, one of the old trees in the grounds of Barton Manor on the Isle of Wight, blew down. The then owner, film producer and impresario, Robert Stigwood, best known for theatrical productions like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, and film productions like Grease and Saturday Night Fever, asked the local marine carver and expert in wood, Norman Gaches to make something from the remains of the tree. As Barton Manor was then producing wine, it was decided to go with the theme of Dionysus the Greek God of wine (or Bacchus if you are looking at the Roman version) and his family, and here is part of the result, a golden Dionysus (Bacchus) rising from the tree.

Dionysus, Greek God of Wine

And here is a picture of the talented Norman Gaches working on the tree at the time.

Norman Gaches, Isle of Wight marine carver

Bacchus was the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus, the god of agriculture and wine and the son of Jupiter (Zeus in Greek mythology). He wandered the earth, showing people how to grow vines and process the grapes for wine, until he took his place as a God on Olympus. Somewhere along the way the name – and the God – Bacchus became associated with intoxication and around 200 BC a wild and mystic festival, The Bacchanalia, notorious for its sexual character, was introduced in Rome. Stick to the Greek version, the story of Dionysus, and you have a less decadent young god, more interested in the production of wine than in wild women and song.

Link to Mind Over Memory to add Post.

5 thoughts on “Sculpture Saturday”

  1. I spent lots of days with Norman while he worked on this tree, my husband too as he was fascinated by wood sculpting and was trying to learn from Norman. Nick, my husband, carried a step-ladder and took the head picture as it was quite tall and one needed to be facing it. At that time I was writing for the Wood-Carving Magazine and this work gave me two good articles. I was lucky enough to be able to hang around Norman’s workshop when he worked on other projects, re-structuring and making good some old ship’s figureheads that had rotted and once when he made one for a rich client whose mistress was the figurehead but just before the ship was due to be sailed to the Caribbean, they split up!

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  2. I like sculpture, possibly more than I like paintings. Sculptures have a “presence” that even the greatest paintings can’t quite manage. And you can walk round a sculpture, seeing it from all sides, which adds immeasurably to the experience. I think, for example, of Jacob Epstein’s massive Jacob and the Angel. I can feel the “weight” of it as I write even though it is not visible to me at this moment.

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