Hammer and chisel on stone. Those three basics have not changed much in thousands of years, but this hidden gem Pateley Bridge sculptor hopes to carve his name in the history books.
Starting out as a stonemason, Joseph soon got a taste for more intricate work and he turned to sculpture full-time 10 years ago.
Ever since, he has picked up plenty of awards and also built up a stunning collection. Joseph is moving towards more abstract themes but has always been fascinated by faces.
Photographs may have dulled the effect for some, but when people wander into the workshop they are often taken aback by how realistic the sculptures are.
When Joseph sat down for this interview he was still thinking about his next piece. As he moulded out a small piece of clay, he told the Stray Ferret:
“I am becoming a bit name in the world of carving and sculpture. How can I say it without sounding like a ****? I have a bit of a reputation at the moment and it continues to grow.
“The thing is with this job, and any creative job, there’s a weird way of thinking. You are never quite happy, it’s almost like an addiction.
“I always have to march forward, nothing is ever quite good enough. I do not really feel proud, I just feel like I need to make more pieces and get better.”
In most art forms, people can either use a rubber or more paint to cover up any mistakes. But you cannot add more stone to a sculpture.
This is probably the most common question that people ask of sculptors. So how does Joseph prevent serious mistakes?
“It’s a bit like when you drive. When you are driving down a country road and you cannot see what is coming, you go steady and you are cautious.
“That is just like when you are carving out the end of a nose or an eyelid. You are very, very steady because you know it can go wrong. Slow right down, use smaller tools.
“On the other hand, when you are roughing out you know you can use bigger tools and work more quickly. If I do go wrong I can change things slightly.
“But the big mistakes like knocking a huge lump off, they do not happen because when you know there is a possibility of that you slow right down.”
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Sculptures can capture a person or a moment in history. They are difficult to change, but the conversation around them can.
The most obvious examples over the past year have been the tearing down of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol and the plan to put up a new statue of Margaret Thatcher in Grantham.
It is a difficult subject to broach, but customers have asked Joseph about the topic a lot recently. So what does he think?
“I try not to get involved in the politics of it all, it’s a tough question to answer. If someone approaches me for a sculpture I will make it.
“People often get ask me about it. I think we should put the statues into context, put up a new plaque and raise awareness. It’s very interesting.”
This is part of the Stray Ferret’s ‘hidden gem’ series, highlighting small, independent businesses. They need to be tucked away but growing in popularity with an eye-catching and unique product or approach. Send us an email with your nominations.