15. Tracey’s Memorial
It was on one of the days working on the Jubilee Stone in Constantine that I had a phone call from Nick Taylor, asking whether I would be interested in designing a memorial for his wife. I realised straight away that he wanted something really special. She had died of cancer in her late forties, and with two young children to look after, Nick wanted a memorial that they could help design. He was very specific about wanting Cornish granite, and that he wanted something very different from the usual, reflecting the needs of his children; but also having to fit the guidelines of the council cemetery in St Austell. I knew it would be challenging, but I relished the opportunity to do a special carving, and work the granite within a very tight and specific remit. I also wanted to give the family the very best of my skills.
The design stage took over 6 months before we were all happy with it and all elements were accepted by the council. I chose the granite and a piece of Delabole slate from Tim’s stockpile and began work in February 2013. I was very conscious throughout the design-make stages that I needed to push my granite carving skills; to demonstrate how the granite could be manipulated and constrained, celebrating and confounding its material properties. I used all my new tools, and unconventional ways of using the tools, to achieve the definition on subtle relief forms. I pushed the ways in which granite could be combined with other materials. I also showed how it was possible to make a definite form that from a distance conformed to a standard memorial, but once up close one could appreciate the striking shape and combination of materials.
Ultimately, I wanted to allow Nick and his two young daughters to feel their presence in this made thing, a thing that was to connect them to their mother for the generations to come. Working from the design stage into the carved stage with such success made me understand that I had developed a real sense of what could be done with the granite within the traditions of monumental masonry. I also saw the making of this memorial as a combined quarry effort, with help from Tim and the other quarrymen, and from Stephen Dyer the monumental mason whom I had got to know over the years; it felt like we had made it. My place in the quarry seemed established, through mutual perseverance and the sharing of skills.