Made of Stone: Exposed chats to Stoneface Creative

Andrew Vickers, aka Stoneface Creative chats to our Elliot Lucas about art, inspiration and, well, stone!

You have sort of an origin story don’t you? About how you got into making things with stone?
I love stone! So I have a massive urge to work with stone. I thought that being a drystone waller would fullfill that urge. So that’s what I did. One day I just decided to carve the walls I was doing with a face, as a sort of signature. At that point I’d never carved anything but I learned that once I had an image in my head, I could carve anything at all. And so Stoneface became Stoneface.

So you never had any sort of formal training? It was just practice that made you so good at what you do?
Well it was never about art. It was about a signature. An identity

“Well it was never about art. It was about a signature. An identity.” Image: Matt Crowder

Speaking of identity, what’s the difference between Stoneface and Andrew Vickers?
Stoneface is a mask that Andrew Vickers puts on. I’m a really shy person. But as Stoneface I can do a lot of things that Andrew Vickers can’t do. So that’s what it is, it’s just a mask.

Is there anything that you dislike about your job?
Well I love everything about it. I’m just not comfortable with the amount of attention that I get from it. But that’s not a bad thing it just is what it is. It’s a contradiction because I’m quite a shy person but I actually attract a lot of attention so…it is what it is. A contradiction.

You don’t relish being a little bit famous at all?
I’ve never in my life ever considered wanting to be famous. I want to make a living, and I do make a living, doing what I do but I’ve never wanted to be famous.

But of course the contradiction is that you have to generate attention in order to sell products.
Well that’s a real contradiction, you’re right. And I think that’s where Stoneface enters into the equation, because Stoneface can be that person and Andrew Vickers can’t.

Where does the inspiration for your art come from? Also, do you ever scrap anything once you start working on it? What’s the difference between the things you keep and the things you scrap?
Well I scrap very little these days because to be honest, a lot of it sells anyway. The pieces that I really love are down the woods, and I’m inspired by what surrounds me at that point. At the minute, I’m just surrounded by love. I’m inspired by all of that.

Are you inspired by any other artists?
No, I’m dyslexic for a start, so I’ve never studied anything. I’m just inspired by life.

“I’m just surrounded by love. I’m inspired by all of that.” Image: Matt Crowder

What’s the end goal with the woods? Are you gonna keep filling it with art or keep replacing the art so that it’s always changing?
There’s never been an end goal. The wood is my diary. If you visit it, you might not understand what it is, but it’s actually telling you everything that’s gone on in my world. At some point, I might invest a bit of time into telling people what that is, but I’m not ready to do that right now.

So you’re art is more of a personal diary, and if people enjoy it or not that’s up to them.
I wouldn’t say that I don’t care whether people enjoy it or not. What I’m saying is, everything that’s in the woods is inspired by what happens in my life. It’s not about whether people enjoy it or not it’s whether people understand. It’s whether people understand that interaction.

What do you think is the purpose of art?
I think my idea of everything is, it’s not about my art. Storrs Wood is a place of nature. If you bring your friends, children, whatever to that place, then you might interact with the art and that can’t be a bad thing. But you don’t have to understand anything. You just have to enjoy what your doing. Have a thought, maybe even a conversation.

Two of your most striking pieces are an elephant and a ‘star man’ made of DVDs.
The elephant I did a number of years ago and that was for the herd of Sheffield, which was a charity event basically so I didn’t make any money from that. But it made quite a lot of money for the childen’s hospital. The star man is a personal project. It’s inspired by when David Bowie died, and it’s based on the idea of constantly changing. If you see the video on Facebook, you can see it in action. No matter what the day is, the sculpture constantly reinvents itself. That’s what star man is all about.

“The star man is a personal project. It’s inspired by when David Bowie died, and it’s based on the idea of constantly changing.” Image: Matt Crowder.

Did you put a lot of thought into the decision to use man-made materials, given how it contrasts the rest of the gallery?
To be honest, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about anything. So yeah, it’s a massive interaction with thought.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Well I think my most recent piece, ‘After the Storm’ is the piece that’s most relevant to me. I’ve found this settlement in my life, where life has suddenly become actually acceptable. And I’m starting to understand what my place in this world is, so that’s what that piece is about.

Have you ever thought about branching out beyond Storrs Wood?
I’ve never wanted to be anywhere else since I bought the place. It’s my spiritual home. It’s where I want to be. I’ve named it Sheffield’s green cathedral and that is what it is it’s a spiritual place

I really enjoy your work.
That’s very kind. It’s not what I do the work for, but it’s great if my work connects with people and connects people to each other. I think that’s the big thing, connection.

Yeah I think we’ve learned that with Covid. How important it is to be connected to other people.
That’s absolutely right. When all this started, I was posting pictures of the woods and everything. Then I realised how pompous that is. I’m in this place that’s tranquil and beautiful while everybody’s stuck wherever they’re stuck, could be a small flat or wherever. So I just stopped doing it
immediately. I’m so fortunate with what I do.

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