Max Nowell

Max Nowell

I have been closely involved with stone for many years. My early adult years were spent farming and I spent a lot of time repairing the dry-stone walls around the fields where I worked. I found I had an affinity for this age-old craft and I left farming work to take up walling full-time (or dyking as it is called in Scotland).

Gradually, as my work became more ornamental in nature and less agricultural, my artistic genes began to express themselves. Both my parents, after all, were artists and I think I only went into farming as a form of rebellion! Nowadays all my work is either sculptural or high quality garden landscaping.

I have worked with and for several other artists, including the world renowned Andy Goldsworthy, and have exhibited in galleries in Scotland and England. For a number of years, I have worked on ‘Show Gardens’ at Chelsea Flower Show creating dry-stone features in gold medal-winning gardens. My work takes me all over the UK and I have worked in the USA and Europe as well. I also take part every year in ‘Spring Fling’, Dumfries and Galloway’s extremely successful Open Studios event.

Stone is a fascinating material. It is easy to think of it as an inert, never-changing, lifeless substance, but I think of it differently. Geologists know that every rock or stone that we look at today has a history of change and movement on an immense scale. My work gives the same stone a chance to express its life more immediately. Whether it is a sinuous carving of a knotted rope or an imposing dry-stone sculpture representing an egg or a seed, the ever-changing play of light and weather on the rough-textured surfaces provides endless interest, and the slow changes wrought by mosses, lichen, insects and birds only add to the richness of the piece.

My approach to my sculpture is one of ruggedness combined with finesse, grit with subtlety. The work can be arduous and involves the physicality of hammers and chisels, striking and breaking, but it is also intensely satisfying work, creating long-lasting works of art that retain the natural beauty of stone through the careful consideration of volume and surface.