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Gildencraft Stone Masonry C.I.C.: quality products made under the guidance of Master Masons, backed up by over 900 years of excellence and tradition.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Van Funds Appeal Auction: Royal Mint Print of Two Pound Coin Design

Bruce Rushin's design of the two pound coin

Message from Bruce Rushin:

"As Artist-in-Residence to the stonemasons' Guild of St Stephen and St George, I'm auctioning this limited edition print by the Royal Mint of my award winning design for the £2.00 coin. All proceeds from the winning bid will go towards their Van Appeal (click on link: Just Giving: Van Appeal). Your contribution will enable the apprentices to gain paid work, not only because they need transport to commercial jobs, it will also allow their social enterprise to considerably cut the costs of the stone."

Auction finishes at midnight on 1st September

In order to submit your bid, please email the Clerk of the Guild via: clerksoffice@gildencraft.co.uk

The current highest bid is:

£60.00

We will send or deliver the framed pictures to the winning bidders.

Norwich Cathedral Painting For Sale!



Message from Bruce Rushin:

"As Artist-in-residence to the stonemasons' Guild of St Stephen and St George, I'm auctioning this original watercolour painted by myself in order to raise funds towards their Van Appeal (click on link: Just Giving: Van Appeal). Your contribution will enable the apprentices to gain paid work, not only because they need transport to commercial jobs, it will also allow their social enterprise to considerably cut the costs of the stone."

Mounted and framed the painting comes to 20 x 16 inches. Auction finishes at midnight on 1st September

In order to submit your bid, email the Clerk of the Guild via: clerksoffice@gildencraft.co.uk


The current highest bid is:

£200.00

All monies raised will go to the Van Appeal. 

We will send or deliver the framed pictures to the winning bidders.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Our apprentice in Canada - The Assyrian church


I remember the words of Professor  Saana Svard of the Assyriology department in Helsinki University very clearly: “it [Assyria] is an ancient culture with a dead language.”  What I witnessed earlier this month was anything but dead. It was a display of pride in heritage, strong community values and spontaneous acts of kindness, all centered around the church they built with donations. 

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We made the 5 hour drive to Toronto two weeks ago and while that journey warrants an entry on its own, I decided I won’t write about Toronto and it's architecture till I’ve had time to get to know it better. Someone in Ottawa told me that the Assyrian community spoke Aramaic and I needed to see this. The best place to go, I thought, would be an Assyrian Church. 
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I went to see the Holy Mass held on Sundays in the Catholic Church of St Mary, a prominent Assyrian church in the outskirts of Toronto; and I have to say that I was completely at awe by what I witnessed and left a little speechless afterwards. 
As soon as we made the turn into Skyway Avenue the traditional exterior of the church caught my eye. Not the kind of traditional that I had become accustomed to in England, where flint walls and tracery windows were the norm. It was the kind of traditional building that Inanna could have called her home. The brick building is a replica of an ancient Mesopotamian church traditionally found in Northern Iraq.
It was absolutely packed despite the fact that it was just a regular Sunday. The interior of the great hall was just as modest but as elegant as the remainder of the church’s interior. We lit candles as we entered and I turned around to admire the altar when it struck me that there was no imagery of Christ or even the slightest symbolism referring to the Stations of the Cross.
There was no imagery, be it on stone or otherwise, of any saints or beast. Or as in the words of an Assyrian church goer: A truly non-pagan worship. The altar was decorated with two stained glass windows and a back-lit stained glass cross. The images on the stained glass were in the neo art-deco style and of abstract shapes and fruits of harvest.
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Stone Inspired Stories- 'The Wanderer's Journey'



Gleeman makes his Guild debut © Heritage Snapper, 2017 
The life of a classical craft guild like ours is incredibly rich and multi-layered. One aspect of this is story. With our continuous lineage stretching back unbroken to our founding Master, Robert de Bessie, in 1080, many stories have been passed down to us. It is not just that our forebears occupied the past, they were also always itinerant. They wandered in pursuit of coin and, as they did so, they were part of some of the massive events in history such as the French Revolution (who do you think had the know-how and tools to break down the Bastille!). 

These stories are part of the intangible heritage we embody. With this in mind, we work with a professional storyteller, Dave Tonge, who is working these into performances to be delivered at events we feature in. The name given to the guild storyteller in our tradition is the 'Gleeman'. Dave is the Gleeman for the Guild of St Stephen & St George and is proud to be so. 

© Heritage Snapper, 2017
Earlier this year, as part of the fantastic Flintspiration event celebrating Norwich's legacy of medieval churches, the Gleeman made his debut, regaling the public with stone-inspired stories. At the same time, our apprentices were busy nearby demonstrating their carving skills and answering questions from the public in our portable lodge. 


© Heritage Snapper, 2017
We are delighted to announce that the Gleeman will be performing once again, this time as part of the Norwich Maker's Month celebrations in early April 2018 in the Norwich Forum. We still have to finalise details, but we are discussing the possibility of a talk by the Master and Clerk interspersed with stories around the theme of, 'The Wanderer's journey'. Who knows, we may even be able to persuade one of our German Journeymen brothers from the CCEG to join us to share their experience of this tradition. 

We will update you once everything is finalised. 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Our apprentice in Canada - Saint Joseph's Oratory

As soon as I had some free time I took the first train to Montreal because of all the fascinating stories I’ve heard about their architecture. That day I only managed to see St. Joseph’s Oratory because it required the entire day to fully appreciate it. On later visits to Montreal I visited other buildings but I always made some time to see St. Joseph’s because of the incredible atmosphere and mysterious interior.  


This Roman Catholic basilica is considered to be Canada’s largest place of worship and many devout catholics still make it part of their pilgrimage. The eclectic mix of styles makes the church a living piece of  Canadian history. It was first built in 1904 and at the time was just a plain wooden chapel. The number of visitors and pilgrims increased with each year and each decade left it’s mark on the original chapel. It is said that the original design of the basilica was completed in the early 1920’s but it was realised by the 1960’s. The growing number of visitors meant that the original design was rethought multiple times which gives the current building an interesting mix of influences.


The main building is the basilica which is the more popular destination for tourists. The first feature that stands out is the colonnade which is over 19 meters high and framed by corinthian columns. The guide was very proud of the fact that the dome is the world’s 3rd largest and oratory larger than London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral.  It boasts 283 concrete steps and a smaller flight of wooden stairs that is no more than 100 steps for pilgrims who wish to climb on their knees.


While the Basilica is an impressive sight, the real attraction for me was the Votive Chapel. It is said that it was an impromptu, last minute, addition to the Oratory. It lies adjacent to the rock of Mount Royal, which can be entered through a small doorway connected to the chapel. While it might not sound very impressive, in person it is quite fascinating. The volcanic rock covers the entire left hand side of the hallway and leads to a modest sculpture of the Virgin Mary. A weak stream of volcano-filtered water drips down on the masses of coin donations visitors lay on the foot of the rock, creating a beautiful chiming.





The Votive Chapel is a destination for pilgrims because it is said to heal the lame. The walls are decorated with layers of wooden crutches and canes, items left behind by pilgrims that claim to have been healed by st Joseph. The room is quite humid and hot due to the fact that there are over 10 000 candles lit at any given point. Huge numbers of visitors and pilgrims make the visit an unforgettable experience. Pleading and wailing, many pilgrims pray for St. Joseph’s blessing, lighting candles and donating money as they go.



The Basilica warrants many visits to explore the particular architectural features. Hopefully in the future I get to see it again and write a little more about the interior.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Customer Satisfaction - Carving Workshops


'If you were feeling in any way daunted by the thought of the one day stoneworking course, you should think again.   The four of us chose to go, all with very different backgrounds and abilities, and it was a very satisfying and eye opening day for us all.

 

I have never had much ability with practical work,  the other three have a variety of craft experience from woodcarving to watercolours to a wide range of DIY - none of us had ever attempted to carve stone before.   

 

After a couple of hours you’ll have found out a few basic principles of how to use the tools and how the stone responds.   You’ll find yourself understanding the craft, skill and concentration required to produce more finished pieces.   You’ll look at the buildings around you with a new eye.   You will know more about the detail of those buildings than the guy standing next to you.  

 

You don’t need to commit to a whole day.   You’ll find that half a day gives you a good initial understanding.   It’s your personal choice to continue to refine your work over the day or to take your piece away at lunchtime to admire at leisure.   One of us chose and was encouraged to come back the next day to begin a second piece.       

 

It’s a very friendly and inclusive environment; it’s a rare treat to be able to access the advice and guidance of a Guild Master.    Apart from the practical skills he’ll pass on, you’ll find out as much as you wish about guilds, restoration, geology, geometry and, apparently, why the Cotswolds might be a preferable place to live than Norwich……and he’ll make you a cup of tea to keep you chipping on happily.

 

And you will all, however little a craftsman you think you are, come away with your own piece of work that you wont want to part with.

 

The donation the Stonemasons ask of you is very small for the experience you will find.   

 

Don’t wish you’d done it, do it!'


Dave McRoberts, Sept 2016


Our carving workshops cost £80 and take place on a Saturday or a Sunday. Stone and tools are included and customers keep their resulting piece. If you don't complete your carving in the course of one day you are welcome to return and finish it on another day. 


If you are interested, please email our Guild Clerk via:

stonemasontraining@gmail.com 



Monday, 12 September 2016

Our Apprentice in Canada - The Sir John A. Macdonald Building

The Bank of Montreal building, which is now called the Sr. John A. Macdonald building, stood out to me instantly. Amongst the building works and busy main road, lies this magnificent and unusual former bank building.



The doric columns are flattened, almost bas-relief work, and the carvings depict industrial images, which I found very unusual. I later found out that the choice in design was heavily influenced by the time the building was designed. During the 1930’s Canada was going through the Great Canadian Depression, so banks like this one wanted to appeal to the regular working man in an attempt to draw them back into their buildings and back on their books.


The grand entrance and regal proportions add a little bit of Art Deco into this otherwise Gothic revival dominant city. The coat of arms of the original Bank of Montreal depicts the shield supported by two native Canadians and a beaver resting on the top. The motto carved is 'Concordia Salus'. which is translates as, 'Prosperity through Harmony'.