Farnham Sculpture

Monday 9 July 2018

After the wood and stone carving adult education classes in Farnham were discontinued in 2002, a group of students started the search for a home of their own. In 2003 Farnham (Building Preservation) Trust offered the group the garage at the Farnham Pottery at Wrecclesham.

The seven founder members refurbished the garage – which involved laying a false floor, decorating and installing electrics – and for two years this was the first studio for the newly named Farnham Sculpture.

Two years later, the Trust offered the group a much larger space in part of the main building, and with an enlarged membership, it was pleased to move in to its new studio, adjacent to the West Street Potters, well known for its pottery and ceramics.

The Pottery is a Grade II listed site, founded in 1873 by a local potter, Absalom Harris. Five generations of the family continued the work, and Farnham Greenware is still much sought after. The site is now privately owned and is being renovated and refurbished by the new owner and the Farnham Pottery Trust.

The members

Members of Farnham Sculpture come from southwest Surrey, West Sussex and northeast Hampshire. They pay a monthly fee, which provides unlimited use of the studio and free beverages. Tools, mentoring and instruction are available for beginners to try their hand. In September 2005, evening sessions were introduced for beginners. These Thursday sessions run from September to May, and include people who work during the day, who do not have work space at home, or who just like the company of like-minded folk.

Exhibitions of the work of the group are held from time to time, in particular during the English Heritage weekend in September. Visits are arranged to sculpture venues, and a social event is held each summer.

Not just wood

The majority of our members work in wood – anything from jelutong (Dyera costulata) to reclaimed oak (Quercus robur), though for beginners, as you would expect, lime (Tilia vulgaris) is preferred. Our stone carvers work in limestone, of which Portland seems to be the favourite, but alabaster, serpentine, soapstone and sandstone appear from time to time.

The output of work is eclectic, and the variety of sculpture forms produced ranges from relief carvings to figurative and abstract creations. Members’ work has featured at the exhibitions of the Farnham Art Society, the Surrey Sculpture Society and The Lightbox in Woking. New members are always welcome to come and try their hand at this creative activity in the company of a friendly group.