Our twice yearly visit to the Big Apple festival at Much Marcle was given an extra dimension today, because Ed, co-heir to the Elliott Millions, was exhibiting his work for sale.
Ed has been mentioned in dispatches a few times, but I’m not sure if I have ever elaborated on his artistic skills. He graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in Fine Arts but, as he himself was quick to point out, in the real world this is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. Degrees do not get you jobs. That said, the University experience was good for Ed, and he learned a lot from the course. Mainly he learned what he was good at, and thus it seems he has been moving in the right direction since his graduation.
Woodcarving seems to be his thing. I would go as far as to say it appears to come naturally to him, and I feel that it would be a waste of talent if he were to drop this in favour of something else. So you can imagine that I was pleased when he found himself some temporary work with a local woodcarver who was strapped for time trying to put together an exhibition of his work for the Autumn Gardening Show in Malvern. For Ed, this was valuable, particularly as he was able to attend the show and see that people are actually interested in buying good wood carvings. He came away from this experience determined to do something similar himself.
I was pleased for him when he was given the opportunity to show his work at the Big Apple, as I know his sculptures are very good. Those of you who have visited Aspen House might have noticed one of his ‘early works’ in our garden, a sculpture of a bird on the wing carved out of solid wood with an angle grinder, of all things. There is something about this bird that persuaded me at the time that Ed might have a gift for working in wood. However, nothing prepared me for what I saw at Much Marcle.
Working with a professional carver had persuaded Ed that most people are happy to buy a simple sculpture, such as a mushroom or an owl on a tree stump. These are relatively simple to do, so I had expected to see Ed on his stall at the Big Apple surrounded by wooden mushrooms and the odd owl or two. But, no – his display included large totem-like heads, a magnificent leaping fish, detailed small pieces and a very stylised carving on a tall birch stump, the top of which had been carved into a mysterious cowled face reminiscent of something from Lord of the Rings. Also on display was a face cut into a very ancient piece of applewood that seems to speak from within the tree.
These pieces were expensive, but they both sold, and no wonder. Call it beginner’s luck if you will, but I don’t. What I call it is a natural gift. I know I could be seen to be biased, but my ability to look at something in a detached way tells me that there was something special on display today. Ed’s innate ability to reach into the spirit of the wood and reveal it in a way that moves the onlooker’s emotion is a rare gift. I hope he uses it wisely. If he needed any encouragement to do so, then he certainly had it today, for it was the big expensive pieces that were selling, not the more simplistic mushrooms. I watch with interest to see where this talented young man goes from here, but one thing’s for sure – I’d better get my order in for one of his sculptures before his price goes up!