Raven by Andrew Whittle

Raven by Andrew Whittle


This carving in Welsh Slate by Andrew Whittle, celebrates the word ‘Raven’, and was created as part of our exhibition ‘The Lost Words - Forget-me-not.’ For this exhibition artists have created a permanent record of the natural words removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Size: 18 x 31cm


A large heavily built crow with mainly black plumage, feeding chiefly on carrion. Genus Corvus, family Corvidae: several species, in particular the widespread all-black common raven (C. corax)

ORIGIN: Old English hræfn, of Germanic Origin; related to Dutch raaf and German Rabe.

The word RAVEN has become superfluous for children in our increasingly – and sadly to my mind –urbanised society.

Raven quills were used for fine writing before the steel nib was popularized – some changes are an improvement, some are not. The advent of the computer keyboard has side-lined the tuition of writing by hand in schools. Only now is it becoming clear that the motor skills gained in hours of practice were an essential part of the training for other fine hand-work, such as surgery and craft-work.

I have in my possession a fine set of copy-books dating from 1869 by a Master Poole of Bristol –aged thirteen years. They are beautifully written in a roundhand style with a steel nib. I felt that this exhibition offered a perfect opportunity to work these letterforms up for carving. Perhaps ironically I have chosen to draw them with the aid of a computer. The hand-skills required to do this well may be less than those employed with a pen or pencil, but the computer allows for minute and exact adjustments. The final drawing on the stone is always by pencil and the final drawing tool, for me, is the chisel.

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