CAIRNS AND CHESSMEN

 

Early in his career Carrick won a competition to carve sculptures depicting the McCaig family for the niches inside McCaig's Tower overlooking Oban.  For some unknown reason the commission was never realised.

 

One other often overlooked feature of the Oban war memorial is the pedestal.  Built in the style of a highland cairn of local stone it is beautifully proportioned and constructed, perhaps the finest of its kind in Scotland.  It almost looks as though the builder selected each stone carefully by hand, considering the colour, shape and proportion of each stone before they were set in place.  

 

In his book 'Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure' Carrick's teacher professor Eduard Lanteri advised his students not to begin the sketch model of any figurative group by modelling seperate figures.  Instead 'throw a lump of clay on your stand, and knock it into the general shape you have conceived...By thus evolving your composition out of a lump of clay the group becomes more compact, it has a sculptural quality which it would not have if the figures were modelled separately and then grouped...I have seen groups of three figures, where the six legs looked like six posts supporting three unhappy torsos...Michel Angelo has laid down the rule that a group should be so compactly composed that, if it is rolled down a hill, none of the limbs would break off.'  Carrick's tight composition and powerful carving give the sculpture a monolithic presence often lacking in monumental art.

 

Left - the original working model of the Oban group which was exhibited at the RSA exhibition.  Note the robust strength integral to the design with the rock like base supporting the weight of the sculpture which would otherwise rest on the soldiers' legs

 

Carrick's composition is devoid of superfluous detail, the simple lines and solid composition are reminiscent of a Lewis Chesspiece.

One of the soldiers wears a goatskin jerkin, an item used on several of Carrick's war memorials. (see Killin)  This is not only historically accurate as an item of clothing worn by many men in the trenches but it also lended itself to Carrick's concept as it lended mass and simplified the lines of the figure,eliminating the need to carve the soldier's kit, while the roughly carved texture of the fur lended itself to the elemental appeal he sought through its similarity to the texture of rock.

 

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