SCOTT TAYLOR stone sculptor
My name is Scott Taylor and I am British craftsman with one foot in the past and one in the future. Taking the best principles of traditional methods and combining them with modern tools and techniques.

My career began in 1982 at the age of 16 apprenticed to a local ‘old school’ firm. I learned to carve and shape stone, granite, marble and slate for memorials and buildings. My training mostly involved techniques that a medieval craftsman would have been familiar with. Since then I have see the advent of many tools, techniques and robotic machines that have rendered many aspects of the craft virtually obsolete.

Once I had completed my ‘time’ I moved to a rival firm specialising in memorial shaping and carving. My skills improved and I progressed to price or ‘piece’ work, making speed of production a new and vital element. My early career was the foundation of my basic ethos as a craftsman; learn to do it well then learn to do it faster.

"The huge variety and volume of work I produced became the most remarkable school of carving and sculpture."

In the late eighties I helped found a new specialist wholesale memorial supplier and continued to specialise in carving. By the early nineties I was producing elaborate marble memorials, figurines, statues and detailed relief carved slate and granite headstones.

The huge variety and volume of work I produced became the most remarkable school of carving and sculpture. Aside from my early days, the entire process was a self-taught evolution of skills, often with modified and custom made equipment.

The impetus for progression remained, as margins in manufacturing across all industries, shrank. Like many other manufacturing trades production shifted abroad, following cheap labour and material.
Many of my fellow craftsmen emigrated as stonemasons were welcomed as a rarity into all the top New World countries.

I stayed and began a partnership with my good friend and colleague Sean. Our timing could not have been worse. Within twelve months of starting the business the memorial market was flooded with cheap imports from China. There was essentially a bloodbath in the wholesale trade as one after another of the big outfits succumbed.

Sean and I could see the writing on the wall and dissolved the partnership. Sean was a specialist in lettering and engraving and utilised computer aided equipment and his skills to provide an engraving service. Funeral directors added ‘& Memorial Masons’ to their high street signs and sub-contracted the work and sold the cheap imported memorials for huge profit.

The loss of all but a very few wholesale companies led to a distinct lack of competitive variety. Big profits encouraged new retail outlets and eventually all were selling the same products from the same catalogues. The only element left to compete with was price which has remained the driving force for the last ten years.

The cut-throat environment favoured automated processes for embellishment and engraving which in turn almost entirely removed personalised individuality, the most vital element of a fitting and meaningful memorial.

I continued to work in the memorial industry as a freelance craftsman, often embellishing imported granite memorials and rectifying substandard carvings.

By the turn of the millennium the diminishing skill base and a general reluctance to do the less lucrative hand cut letters meant I began to do far more traditional engraving, a craft once considered separate to carving and shaping (banker masonry). Hand cut lettering has followed the same path as traditional sign writing in that it has been replaced by computer cut stencils.
The cut rubber stencils are stuck to the surface to be engraved, the letters are removed and then the exposed surface is shot-blasted. The etched letters are then spray painted and the stencil is removed, a rapid low cost process far more lucrative than the laborious hand cutting.

The result is as different as a photograph is to a painting, indeed the gentle flow of a delicate carving can be jarred by the staccato forms of computer generated letters.

"I find it a joy to hear the diverse interpretation of my work which often leads me to new ideas."

During these years of upheaval and change I began experimenting with my own ideas for creative art and sculpture. Having no formal training in the art world is no doubt a significant disadvantage but it at least gives me an unusual perspective and has perhaps kept me free of some of the dogma.

My style is primarily figurative (true to life). I want the viewer to understand my meaning or at least grasp the thread of my visual language. I find it a joy to hear the diverse interpretation of my work which often leads me to new ideas. There is no correct interpretation, the inspiration and meaning that leads me to create a sculpture is mine alone but the result is meant as a starting point for a thought not a definition of it.

The growth of the internet has been a huge asset and provides a number of diverse sculpture and carving commissions. The internet works as well for memorials although it is not easy to be found among the vast numbers selling mass produced products. The diminishing variety and skill-base and growing mediocrity in the memorial industry makes the need for an alternative obvious.

For the last few years I have mostly abandoned the wholesale trade, indeed I have focuseds on providing a service direct to the client.

" I feel the need to offer an alternative to the increasing level of automation and corresponding loss of character and soul. "

The use of email and the ease of exchanging images overcome the problems of distance if discussion in person is not practical. This approach allows the concept and design to flow seamlessly into production and installation all of which is performed by me.

The process is similar for both sculpture and gravestones or any other commission involving a significant amount of design. I am happy to provide concept sketches at an early stage before a client commits to a commission.

The last ten years has produced a diversity of work that extends into fields as varied as ultra-light granite and marble features for super yachts, aircraft and elevators. The amount of architectural masonry has also grown.

My career is a continuous evolution, some of which is a conscious choice some is unconscious learning. I feel the need to offer an alternative to the increasing level of automation and corresponding loss of character and soul.

I embrace diamond cutting equipment and power tools not only for the speed working but for what they make possible. While computer technology has its place I consider it a utility form of engraving and embellishment, devoid of spontaneity and life.
07547 785 287
01929 477274