Skill most masterly
OUR fraternal compliments go to the Master Carvers’ Association (MCA), which, like COUNTRY LIFE, celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. The MCA is, in fact, a few months younger than we are, as it was founded on November 11, 1897, bringing together the heads of 14 firms that employed ‘wood and stone carvers, sculptors, modellers, masons, joiners and fibrous plasterers’. The oldest of them, John Daymond & Son, founded in 1853, had 50 woodcarvers on its books as well as ‘a small army’ of the other trades.
In the early years, it was very much an employers’ group concerned with arranging wages rates, expenses and so on with their employees, but although the modern members may employ assistants and take on apprentices, they’re likely to be artist-craftsmen rather than large businesses. Over these years, they have included many distinguished sculptors, often working with leading architects, and as well as producing their own work for original commissions, the woodcarvers are an important element in the restoration of historic furniture, not least for the Royal Palaces.
The Association promotes the highest standards and is, in some ways, the carving equivalent of the Royal Academy. Perhaps a royal accolade would not be out of place for the MCA, too. Huon Mallalieu
River God by Tom Brown