WAYSIDE CROSS STRATFORD SUB CASTLE 11 December 2014
"Our donation-funded project for the Stratford sub Castle Wayside Cross was important for St Lawrence Church, and for the wider village community. Our project was to commemorate the start of the World War on 4th August 1914. Names of those who had lost their lives in that war were to be engraved on a special plaque and incorporated into the public face of the roadside memorial. Henry listened carefully to our proposals, contributed crucially relevant design detailing, and went on to hand-cut the names on to a selected Portland stone slab. The new insert was then incorporated neatly and sympathetically into the memorial plinth. We can now take pride in our public statement - 'WE WILL REMEMBER THEM' - literally set in stone. The whole job was beautifully executed, in time for the dedication event, and represented excellent value for money."
St Lawrence Stratford C of E Church - Parochial Church Council
GRAVESTONE comissioned by John Carlyle-Clarke
"We asked Henry to make a headstone for my father who died in 2012. We had some fairly strong opinions of what we wanted but we didn't have the knowledge to translate this into an exact design that could be followed. Henry came out to the churchyard to discuss it with us, and seemed to comprehend exactly what we were aiming for. He was extremely understanding and sensitive to everyone's slightly raw emotional state, and full of good ideas and suggestions.
"We quickly approved his quote and final design which came through very promptly. Soon after, we visited the workshop to look at the stone and see some examples of lettering - what a lovely atmosphere in that place! Henry and Tamsin came and installed the stone themselves when it was done, and it was every bit as good as we'd hoped, if not better. The whole family were really pleased with it. Without Henry's knack for understanding our rather muddled ideas and helping to draw them out and clarify them, I don't think we'd have ended up with such a good result."
CARVING CLASSES 2012 - 1024
"Henry runs a warm supportive stone carving course. He encourages the development of artistic design in student works and combines that with excellent technical advice to achieve great results. I have enjoyed all my time in the studio and am most grateful for all I have learnt."
VISIT TO HENRY GRAY’S STONE CARVING STUDIO
On Monday 10th November 2014 I spent a fascinating morning at Henry Gray’s Stone Carving Studio, as part of my course on teaching calligraphy. A requirement of this course is the observation of an experienced teacher, and I chose to visit a teacher of a craft different to my own, but related to it.
The studio is ideally set up for teaching, with individual ‘work stations’ in place for up to eight students, and a comprehensive range of tools is available. Henry’s starting point for teaching is his feeling that almost every human being needs to have more confidence. His teaching style is therefore one of giving gentle (though very expert) guidance and encouragement, while also leaving students to work things out for themselves when appropriate.
It was fascinating to watch Henry’s interaction with the students. He was able to take in quickly what each was aiming at, and was very sensitive in the ways in which he gave guidance. Sometimes he would demonstrate how to use a tool more effectively, both in terms of the angle of the chisel to the stone, but also from the point of view of muscles used and the stance needed for greatest economy of effort. I noticed him gently stimulating students to think about what they wanted to achieve, and what techniques and tools they might use to achieve it, often referring to an impressive piece of his own work in progress, to discuss a particular technique he had used and how well it had worked. I felt that he was constantly watching for ways in which he could help - but help was given in the gentlest, most encouraging way, and always unobtrusively and self-effacingly, treating the students completely as equals. I couldn’t imagine a more encouraging or approachable teacher.
Not surprisingly, there was a really happy atmosphere in the studio! – friendly and relaxed, but also very productive and focussed. The students were all engrossed in their craft, in an immensely supportive teaching environment.
Reflecting on this teaching observation, it strikes me that there are two crucial elements which make Henry’s studio teaching such a success: firstly his long experience and complete mastery of his craft, and secondly the personal qualities which make him such a superb teacher. There was never any feeling of ‘I’m the expert, listen to me’ – quite the reverse: he was dealing with students as equals, and as friends with whom he wanted to share something special. I shall always remember his example in my own teaching, and hope that I can live up to it.
MONDAY EVENING CARVING COURSE 2014
"The course gave me an insight into the skills required to turn a block of stone into a creation of my own, Henry was supportive, inspirational and always eager to listen, guide and pass on his immense repertoire of skills and knowledge to his learners....I found this a course intriguing as it used skills passed down through the hundreds of years, but translated directly to the twenty first century!!"
MONDAY MORNING CARVING COURSE 2014
"I signed up for my first course with Henry as a challenge to myself to try to learn a new skill. The fact that I've signed up for more courses since is testament to Henry's skill, patience and support as a teacher. The atmosphere he creates in the studio is warm, relaxed and inclusive. His enthusiasm is infectious and learning comes not just from Henry but also from fellow learners. His, and their, enthusiasm is infectious".
MONDAY MORNING CARVING COURSE 2014
"I chose to give a stone-carving course to my husband for his birthday present, and it has proved one of the best presents ever. He was delighted to do the course - complete with boots, goggles, and bright red overalls - and produced a beautiful Ammonite. Since then, he has acquired more tools and has carved a salmon, among other pieces. It is a lifetime's satisfying interest!"
"The course had an extremely good atmosphere: both between Henry and the pupils, and among the pupils themselves. Our initial hesitation in case we spoilt the immaculate piece of stone was swept away by Henry's sympathy. He also was excellent at encouraging reality! Gently steering someone who'd turned up with an idea that would be far beyond them - then a good balance of teaching and supportive guidance.
The material - Maltese limestone, which cuts very easily - and the selection of tools on site, as well as really good work-station - right height, and lots of space to get round it - in a warm workshop, with excellent coffee and biscuits - made this a wonderful course."
WEEKEND CARVING CLASS
"My stone carving course with Henry was an inspired Christmas present from the family."
"Henry's relaxed and uncomplicated approach to stone carving for total beginners like myself is extremely motivating. He is both patient and encouraging also a thoroughly interesting person to talk to during lessons. The homemade cakes, biscuits and chats with fellow students during coffee breaks were also much enjoyed!
I was able to produce a small fluted ornamental piece, which I would never have believed achievable for a beginner, which now stands resplendent on our stone flagged hall floor. I show it off to visitors with pride at every possible opportunity!"