Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Neo Palladian, Baroque & Neo Classical Craftsmanship

Neo Palladian, Baroque & Neo Classical Craftsmanship      

Over a 32 year career  master stonemason Stephen Critchley has worked on all types of architectural and design projects, but having been brought up in an area which has such a wealth of Neo Palladian and Neo Classical architecture, as well as the finest collection of Baroque architecture outside Rome, his particular interest became the period between the 1620′s – 1830′s. Added to this he was trained by a City of London company whose origins date back to 1690′s Aldgate and he happened to start his career at a time when many of these wonderful buildings were being restored and conserved for the first time for many decades.
This is a detail of a coat of arms I carved in a Baroque style.
This is a detail of a coat of arms Stephen carved in a Baroque style.
This period, so rich in all the arts that flourished in England after Charles I’s trip to Spain in 1623 and architecturally given a boost by the destruction caused by the Great Fire of London in 1666 was the one Stephen chose to follow were ever possible. To learn as much about this field as he could Stephen travelled extensively searching out the few remaining masters of these styles in his early years, soaking up ever piece of knowledge. Skills ranging from choosing the best marble and limestone from quarries in Italy, France and Spain , geometric and visual techniques and classic hand tool skills peculiar to the highly decorated Baroque.
He has had the good fortune to have trained on and later produced work for many of the jewels of English architecture from this period and Stephen is now recognised as one of the top craftsmen working on the period from English Palladianism through Baroque to Neo Classicism in the field of architectural sculpture and stone masonry.
His experience in this field is unrivalled having over the years worked on and produced work for all for the following projects, as well as many others.
Architect / Designer
Queen’s House, Greenwich
Inigo Jones
York Watergate, Thames Embankment
Sir Balthasar Gerbier
St Paul’s church, Covent Garden
Inigo Jones
St Edmund, King and Martyr
Sir Christopher Wren
St Peter upon Cornhill
Sir Christopher Wren
Heythrop Foley
Stoneleigh balustrade
Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire
Thomas Archer
Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich
Sir Christopher Wren & Nicholas Hawksmoor
St Mary Woolnoth
Nicholas Hawksmoor
St Martin in The fields
James Gibbs
Painswick House, Gloucestershire
Southam Manor, Gloucestershire
St. Luke’s church, London
John James & Nicholas Hawksmoor
Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire
Henry Flitcroft & Henry Holland
Woburn Abbey South Stable Block
Henry Flitcroft
Stoneleigh Abbey Conservatory
Russell Square, London, WC1
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Sir John Soane
Tobacco Dock, London, E1
Charlesworthy Bridge, Stoneleigh
John Rennie
Wheatley Park School, Oxfordshire
Somerset House, London, WC2
Sir William Chambers
Chambers Bridge, Woburn Abbey
Sir William Chambers
Years of working so closely with such high quality design and craftsmanship has lead to Stephen gaining a deep understanding of the design of this period and he is now one of very few craftsmen worldwide who still works with the techniques and visual proportions used at the time, many of which, closely linked in the Baroque with the explosion of baroque music through harmonic proportion.
Heythro House by Thomas Archer
Heythrop House by  Thomas Archer
On top of still working with the heritage left to us from this age, a great deal of Stephens work involves producing new carved stone and marble ornament, fire surrounds, statuary, funtains and heraldic carving in the style of and to the same standards as the original master craftsmen. He still hand carves each piece using the same tools and techniques used in the 16th and 17th Century. He believes hand carving is not a gimmick, but the best way to produce one off pieces of the highest quality when using natural materials to produce Bas, Mezzo and Alto relief as well as pieces in the round.
Over the last few years he has found an appreciation from a whole new range of clients. Where he used to supply mainly those with period properties, he now receives many commissions from people, for even the most highly decorated pieces to be set as a juxtaposition to modern design.
LARGE BOLECTION       WESTONBIRT Neo classic inlaid fire surroundNeo Classic fire surround
A selection of Stephen’s fire surrounds
As well as keeping this part of his craft alive himself Stephen also takes on 1 apprentice every 2 years to pass on his skills which were on the  edge of disappearing only 30 years ago. These places are highly sought after, the training he gives is an extensive 5 year course as he believes in training the master crafts people of the future.