fbpx DAN | Daily Architecture News Rock star Matthew Simmonds carves miniature buildings into solid stone - DAN | Daily Architecture News
Rock star Matthew Simmonds carves miniature buildings into solid stone

Rock star Matthew Simmonds carves miniature buildings into solid stone

Art
Design
News
03-06-2121
WATCH: Global architecture, art and design highlights, including architectural sculptures by Matthew Simmonds.

In 1984, sculptor Matthew Simmonds graduated with an honours degree in history of art from the University of East Anglia, specialising in the art and architecture of the medieval period. But it wasn’t until he’d spent several years working as an illustrator that he considered aligning his formal education with a stone-carving career. “I didn’t think about working with stone until 1990,” he says, casting his mind back to that time. “On a visit to Chichester Cathedral in the South of England I saw a display about the work of the stonemasons restoring the building and in a sort of epiphany knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

Merging this lightbulb moment with his life-long fascination of stone buildings, Matthew decided to study architectural stone carving at Weymouth Technical College in the UK’s south. This led to gratifying work on the restoration of several major English monuments, including Westminster Abbey in London and the cathedrals of Salisbury and Ely. It wasn’t until 1997, however, when he transferred to Pietrasanta in Italy, that Matthew tightened his passion and specialised in the fine-art of classical marble ornament. 

Stone sculpture by artist Matthew Simmonds
Tetraconch II (also shown at top) by Matthew Simmonds.
Stone sculpture by Matthew Simmonds
Stepwell by Matthew Simmonds.

Rock star Matthew Simmonds carves intricate buildings into solid stone

After honing his skills, Matthew says he gained his first recognition as a sculptor two years later when he won first prize at the second International Sculpture Symposium of Verona. Since then, he has participated in several sculpture symposia worldwide and has exhibited work in Europe, China, the UAE, Australia and the USA. Public and private commissions such as religious monuments and detail-rich chimneypieces have also been a significant contributor to his body of work. Including a piece titled Essay in Baroque Space II that would eventually make its way to the luxury cruise ship MS Nieuw Statendam

Drawing on skills learnt as an architectural stone carver, Matthew’s small-scaled sculptures adopt stone architecture – particularly sacred stone architecture – as a central theme. “I’m mostly interested in religious architecture, and the sense of sacred spaces that this can invoke,” he says. “I have always been more inspired by common heritage than the work of individual artists. I am also inspired by the qualities of the material itself and the potential that exists in a solid, often once living, material where the creative process involves only the removal of material.” 

Stone sculpture by artist Matthew Simmonds
Elevation VI Rooke Chapel by Matthew Simmonds.
Essay in Baroque Space II by Matthew Simmonds.
Stone sculpture by artist Matthew Simmonds
Gothic Passage II by Matthew Simmonds.

As Matthew carves into solid boulders, he reveals intricate worlds where the changing viewpoint of the observer plays a strong role. Themes of positive and negative space, the significance of light and darkness and the relationship between nature and human endeavour are all explored through his high-precision work. “I have always been drawn to fine detail since I started to work with stone,” he says. “The techniques I use are based on traditional methods, perhaps sometimes pushed a little further towards their limits than normal in terms of fineness of detail.” 

The sculptor uses a combination of traditional hand tools and hand-held pneumatic grinding and cutting instruments to carefully chisel his works. The pneumatic tools (powered by air) are employed first to “rough out” the designs. Laborious hand techniques follow in order to refine the detail. “Patience is important, as is the desire to achieve a certain goal,” he insists, especially when works can take up to eight months to complete.

Classic limestone and marble sourced from Italy are Matthew’s stones of choice, “partly because of the fine detail that they allow and partly because so many of the buildings that inspire me are made from these materials,” he explains. But he’s also open to working with new materials. Since moving to Denmark with his family seven years ago, Matthew has begun a new chapter sculpting in faxe, a local coralline stone that shares similarities with Italian travertine.

mattsimmonds.com

Patience is important, as is the desire to achieve a certain goal.

Matthew Simmonds Sculptor
Stone sculpture by Matthew Simmonds
Window by Matthew Simmonds.
Stone sculpture by Matthew Simmonds
Elevation VIII Mren Cathedral by Matthew Simmonds.
Stone sculpture by Matthew Simmonds
Corona by Matthew Simmonds.
Romanesque Stone II by Matthew Simmonds.
Stone sculpture by Matthew Simmonds
Romanesque Stone II (detail) by Matthew Simmonds.
Stone sculpture by Matthew Simmonds
Windows by Matthew Simmonds.
Stone sculpture by Matthew Simmonds
Windows (detail) by Matthew Simmonds.

Read up on more artists like Matthew Simmonds and check out the latest architecture and design highlights. Plus, subscribe to receive the Daily Architecture News e-letter direct to your inbox.

Related stories

Advertisement
Login to join the conversation

Subscriber comments are moderated first. Respect others. Criticise ideas, not people. No offensive language View commenting guidelines

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Further Reading
View all in Art
Christo and Jeanne-Claude's vision for the Arc de Triomphe realised after 60 years
The artists went on to fabric-wrap a number of other monuments and buildings in the mid-1960s, and pursued more than a dozen ambitious projects around the world in the years that followed. They wrapped a 92,900-square-metre section of the Australian coastline in 1969 and cloaked Paris’ Pont-Neuf bridge with fabric in 1985. Ten years later, […]
Art
22-09-2121
Italy now: Murano glass sparkles in the spotlight
Already linked by their shared passion for revitalising contemporary glass, the two institutions have now come together during the Venice Biennale of Architecture to showcase modern glass art and design by way of a glittering exhibition. Titled ‘Glass to Glass’, the presentation is the ultimate celebration of the skilled artists and designers working with Murano […]
Art
22-07-2121
Powerhouse: 'Clay Dynasty' charts 50 years of Australian studio ceramics
“The Powerhouse collection of Australian studio ceramics is the most significant in Australia,” says Lisa Havilah, chief executive of the Powerhouse Museum. “We are committed to continuing to support contemporary Australian artists and documenting this significant field of practice for future generations.” The making of ‘Clay Dynasty’ The ‘Clay Dynasty’ exhibit will feature works by […]
Art
16-07-2121
Final days: 'Intersections' by Ian Strange lights up Sydney nights
Ian’s latest work, titled ‘Light Intersections II’ from the Intersections series, has recently landed in Surry Hills as part of the City of Sydney’s Art & About program. The artwork sees 120 metres of LED light beams dramatically break through a graffiti-tagged terrace house. The light is used to draw attention to the Victorian architecture […]
Art
02-07-2121
At the NGV: Australian Impressionism shines in the sunlight
Open to audiences until August 22, ‘She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism’ presents 270 works of Impressionist art from Australia and around the world. Named after Tom Roberts’ work, She-oak and sunlight (1889), which takes pride of place in the exhibition, the large-scale survey brings together some of the most widely recognisable and celebrated works by Frederick McCubbin, Jane Sutherland, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, Clara Southern, John Russell and E. Phillips Fox. The exhibition also brings to view works by Iso Rae, May Vale, Jane Price and Ina Gregory.
Art
07-05-2121
'Cosmic Nature' by Yayoi Kusama is a dazzling display among New York's Botanical Garden
After three years of planning and a pandemic-forced delay, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx has joyfully announced the opening of its major exhibition for 2021. Titled ‘KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature’, the eye-popping survey features work by internationally celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama amid a carefully choreographed display of seasonal floriculture.
Art
15-04-2121

Back to Top