Jo Sweeting

Jo Sweeting is a sculptor, lettercarver and printmaker, whose work is informed by the Buddhist concept of ‘shul’, a marking which remains after the thing that made it has passed through. After studying Fine Art and Sculpture at Leeds Art School, Jo began working in stone. She learned to carve at the Skelton Workshop, the home of the late John Skelton, nephew of and apprentice to Eric Gill. Working chiefly with found and quarried British stone, Jo’s lapidary art is in constant dialogue with the natural world, allowing herself to be led by the organic form of the material. Her work often takes on themes of language, time and place, with a fondness for dialect. Jo loves reading and writing every day, and has a book being published in 2024 with the publisher, Little Toller.

Sculptor

Jo Sweeting

South East England

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THE PROCESS

Although Jo Sweeting uses direct carving techniques, her work veers away from the rules typical of letter carving. First, she draws a rough outline directly on the chalk, then lets the tools travel across the stone without restriction, allowing the work to change and grow as she spends many hours with it. She leaves much of the original form in place to honour the block. The work is slow and considered. Although she begins with a clear concept, Jo is inspired by the unknown and has a distinct openness in her approach - using chisels and mallets to capture transience within the permanence of stone.

Q&A

1. What motivates you to make?

I look. I watch and listen. Then I am full and I have the desire to make. I have always needed to connect and my work is what grounds me and forms my shape.

2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?

I am inspired by words. They ignite and flare. Dialect and conversations are always the beginning of my process. Whole series of works can come from one word, as my first collection has been. I’m often inspired by beautiful objects found in nature such as lichen, feathers, twigs. Very simple and yet exquisite when held and viewed closely. I like the tiny and overlooked.

3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?

I began my work at Leeds Art School working in clay as I loved its leathered nature. After leaving college I began working with stone. Powerful and exquisite in its capacity to hold every line you make across its surface I learnt lettercarving to hone my sculptural skills but the words demanded to be carved too. I now write every day and have a book being published in 2024 with Little Toller.

I also read poetry and the works of Heaney, Pound and Thomas have inspired me greatly.

4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?

I made a large sculpture for Brighton Amex Stadium which was inspired by Ted Hughes poem ‘Gulls Aloft’. It required collaboration and a year’s worth of carving.

But perhaps it is the tiny hand-held pieces that I send out and the words that are sent back by people who carry them in their pockets or hold them during difficult times that are my proudest contribution.

5. What is your dream project?

I am working on my dream project. Carving words, making prints and travelling to places to carve stones in. On shores and hillsides. Meeting makers and people who come across me working in the landscape.

It is free to all and I like that. The pieces also drift, roll or disappear through time and tides intervention on them and this is important. I do not want my work to be arrogant or permanent in the landscape.

To be kept informed about new collections from Jo Sweeting, please email [email protected]

ALL PRODUCTS

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5 Products found

  1. Feather Carving by Jo Sweeting
    Feather Carving
    Jo Sweeting
    £1,450
  2. Branch Carving by Jo Sweeting
    Branch Carving
    Jo Sweeting
    £1,750
  3. Thorn Carving by Jo Sweeting
    Thorn Carving
    Jo Sweeting
    £1,950
  4. Oak Moss Carving by Jo Sweeting
    Oak Moss Carving
    Jo Sweeting
    £2,250
  5. Petiolaris Pair Carving by Jo Sweeting
    Petiolaris Carving
    Jo Sweeting
    £2,450
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5 Products found