French Quarry


La Pont du Gard. A Roman Aqueduct over the river Gardon.

In 1986 having assisted the French Sculptor Pierre Vivant create his site related sculpture at Portland Sculpture Park and his recommendation. I made my way to the sunny south of France, to work in a limestone quarry to improve my carving techniques.

With a rucksack full of heavy stone carving tools, my unclassified O Level in French and many Night Classes at the local tech. I then boarded the Euro-line coach from London to Montpelier. Feeling apprehensive and ill-prepared.

Accommodation had been arranged and to my surprise, I was staying in a form of hostel for ‘ les compagnons du devoir’. A craftsman’s guild who teach different crafts to a very high standard


First morning at the quarry I found all my tools for carving unsuitable for their type of stone. It resembled Bath Stone with a lot more shells, carved with wooden handled chisels and French Drags. Types of scrapers that made a noise like scraping your nails on a blackboard!

Having started work at 8 a.m. half an hour later to my surprise the stonemasons downed their tools. Bringing out their morning snacks, large baguettes and a nice bottle of Cote du Rhone. Which was then passed around until finished! I soon embraced their local habits and found that a bottle of good Cotes du Rhone could be bought for only 45p. Hic!

Bienvenue en Provence! (to be continued)

I,d love to get any feedback about my work, feel free to comment.

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