CHILDHOOD - STONES & WHALEBONES

ring-of-brodgar-orkney-islands

Alexander Carrick was born in 1882 in Musselburgh, Scotland. His father and uncle ran the family forge, Carrick's of Musselburgh, in the little town which lies on the eastern edge of Edinburgh were among other things they produced golf clubs and their own patented plough for export to the Canadian market. The Carricks had been blacksmiths for generations at least dating back to the 17th century when a covenanting ancestor had been taken from Ayrshire and imprisoned in the Bass Rock for his religious beliefs. When freed he settled in the nearby village of Athelstaneford where he set up a forge.

Carrick’s mother, Elizabeth Leith, came from South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands. The Leiths were a family of tailors and Elizabeth was a talented dressmaker whose work was always in great demand. She had left her native islands and was working for a time at Holylee, a house near Peebles before marrying. The young Alex visited his mother’s family on South Ronaldsay and it was there that his uncle John Leith helped him to whittle a model boat from a piece of driftwood found on the shore. It perhaps isn’t being too fanciful to wonder if these islands of stones and whalebones might have made a deep impression on the psyche of the young boy. The Orkneys are bare of trees and it is rock features, both natural and man-made, that make up the natural and cultural landscape. Local features such as the Ring of Brodgar and Maes Howe with their raw elemental appeal have the power to stir the childish imagination. This might explain Carrick's deep affinity with his true medium, stone; and his belief in the role of sculpture in the community; while his artisan background established him as a supreme craftsman whose vision as an artist and sculptor was always three dimensional.

Above - The Ring of Brodgar. Orkney

Photograph supplied and reproduced by kind permission of David Woods, Copyright David Woods.

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