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The various stages of the bas-relief carving for St Mary's Church Warsash.


The bas-relief woodcarving for St Mary's Church, Warsash in Hampshire, UK. It was carved from 2 inch thick Lime Wood which was stained and polished to suit its eventual surroundings. The relief carving was then placed above the Vestry in the Church, which was originally built in 1872.


 St Mary's Church Warsash, in Hampshire


The space above the vestry where the woodcarving will be placed, before and after installing the relief carving showing the village landmarks

( 7 feet high X  10 feet wide )


The wood was carefully selected from seasoned Lime Wood that grew near Glastonbury in Somerset. Each plank was selected for its condition, similar grain pattern and colour, cut roughly to size and each length was then squared with a single slot cut along the entire length which will enable the boards to be accurately glued together. 

The original outlined sketch was made by Libby Norris in 1999, wife of The Revd. Andrew Norris of St Mary's Church. The congregation of the Church were initially asked for their thoughts to what might be included in the finished design and the most suitable of these landmarks were eventually agreed upon. These original designs included in the woodcarving were the Church and its Lich Gate, along with the Dove the symbol of peace, radiating through the Village. The particular style of Dove to be used was taken from the design that is above the Altar in the Church itself. 

The eventual finished design of the woodcarving was a collaboration between Ian and many other members of the congregation, all possible landmarks in the village which might possibly be included in the finished carving were open to suggestions and the most suitable of these landmarks were eventually agreed upon. Ian than adapted the original design somewhat so as to enable all these new landmarks and features to be incorporated into the new layout to the best effect..  

The finished design would now include the Hamble River with its Yachts, the Coast Guards offices, War Memorial, Polycast Foundry, the old Victory Hall, the Rising Sun Public House, the Yacht Club, the Clock Tower, the new Hook with Warsash School, the Globe, some housing ( Ian's ), Hook House, the old School House, the Nature Reserve with its Trees, Reeds and Strawberry plants.

Due to this rather unique idea of incorporating a relief woodcarving of this type within the Church, months of deliberation was undertaken with several site visits by a special committee which had been set up and who would decide whether a faculty to approve the work could be agreed upon. After a number of meeting at the Church and in Ian's Studio the design and details to the way of working was finally approved. The Faculty was granted and work on the base relief carving could then be started.

Rough sketch of the proposed design used as a guide 


The seasoned lime wood squared up and cut to size


Some of  the limewood planks glued together alongside the paper template which shows the actual size of the space to be filled above the vestry


Each of the three joined limewood boards will be carved separately and when each carved section is near completion all three boards will be finally glued together, the carvings and backgrounds will then be carefully blended in so the joins in the wood will not be seen.


The rough design of the Church and its Yew Tree, using Ian's paper template



Using the 'dove of peace' design that is already above the Altar in the Church incorporated in the woodcarving



To give a more three-dimensional effect to the trees and buildings, Ian increased the depth of the relief carving to over an inch deep in places.



The Dove symbol above the Altar in St Mary's Church 



The relief carving now requires around 450 hours work to complete all the fine detail 



HRH The Princess Royal taking an interest in how the relief woodcarving for the Church is progressing.



The wood now prepared for staining and polishing.





The lime wood was stained to blend in with the overall 'medium oak' colour of the original oak wood furnishings within the church.




The completed carving awaiting delivery ( please click to enlarge )






Various members of the Congregation giving a much needed 'helping hand' to deliver and place the carving into position

( for further instillation photographs : please click here )




When Ian was putting the finishing touches to the relief carving, at the precise moment he was working on the fine detail in what was then the closed door of the church, the former Beatle Sir Paul Cartney's song  'Let 'Em In' started to play on the radio in Ian's Studio. The lyrics of the song said "Open the Door and let them in", Ian then decided perhaps it would indeed be most appropriate to now carve away the door from the relief carving of the church - and leave it open.



 "I have set before you an open Door and no Man can Shut it."  Revelation : Chapter 3 - Verse 8







Artist Information   HMS Victory Sculpture   Selected Commissions  Wood/Bronze Sculptures   HMS Victory

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