Sight and Touch


Holding stone ready for sculpting

It seems strange to me, but art history is littered with debate surrounding the idea that painting was better than sculpture.

Luckily, it doesn’t seem to be an issue today, at least I’ve never felt a lesser artist because I carve stone!  Indeed, some painters describe their work as sculpture – art, craft, creativity all mixing and merging it seems.

One of the arguments that was used in defence of sculpture was the fact that sculpture could be experienced through sight and touch and it was therefore a more universal art.  A supporter of Michelangelo’s sculpture, Bernedetto Varchi, claimed that although sight was the noblest sense, touch was the surest.

The verse On the Nature of Things, by poet Lucretious (written with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience) was referred to by Varchi, and quoted – ‘For touch, through its divine omnipotence, is the sense of our whole body’.

I think for me it is about direct contact – with the stone in the first place and then in the carving and making.  I see that urge and need in others too, when someone picks up a sculpture I’ve created, or reaches out to touch it.



One Comment

  1. Comment by Ellen Abbott:

    I’ve always been a ‘toucher’, even as a child. It’s almost as if I can’t see something completely unless I touch it as well.

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