This craftsman came home to realise his dream in his native Northumberland
Stone carver Luke Batchelor has honed his skills alongside marble artists in Italy and at some of the UK’s best known historic sites, but he has finally realised his dream of opening his own workshop in Northumberland.
From his workshop in North Northumberland, Luke is chipping out a name for himself as The Northumbrian Stone Carver – making hand carved inscriptions and sculptures in local stone, using both traditional and modern techniques.
As a youngster, Luke was fascinated by historic buildings and stone carvings.
This interest led him to Weymouth College, Dorset and Kingston University, London,after which he became an historic building conservator.
He worked on the conservation of iconic buildings, from Durham Cathedral to Rosslyn Chapel, and on stone sculpture for museums.
Luke, 30, said: “Being gay and dyslexic, school wasn’t a fun time for me, but art lessons were something I always enjoyed and did well in.
“I chose my degree in historic building conservation, mainly because it taught some aspects of stone carving.
“Afterwards I got to work on some amazing projects and met many passionate, skilled craftspeople, but moving back to Northumberland and opening my own stone carving workshop was always my dream.”
In 2015 he received a bursary from the Heritage Crafts Association, a charity working to keep endangered traditional crafts from dying out.
Luke spent a year in Italy carving marble alongside artists, and developed an interest in sculptural and memorial work.
He explained; “With memorials, you can create something unique and beautiful to represent a person’s life.
“This can be done by really learning about the person and by using local stone. Local stone is more sustainable and sits better within the landscape.
“I like to spend time talking to my clients, to understand exactly what they want and to show them different possibilities.
“The design process is normally longest, with each letter drawn with pencil and paper numerous times before being transferred to stone; carving can also take a while as I use chisels and a mallet to carve the letter forms and any decoration.
“People ask me what happens if I make a mistake but you soon get a feel of the stone, and know what will happen if you alter the angle of the chisel and the force of the hit.
“The sound it makes is important too.”
Early commissioners of Luke’s work are Jan Broderick and Alan Culpitt, from near Alnwick.
They said: “We commissioned Luke to create two pieces for our bee garden - and he did a fine job.
“It’s great knowing that by commissioning a local craftsperson, you’re not just getting something unique and made with passion, you are helping to preserve a traditional craft for the future. ”
Luke is to receive support from The York Consortium and is planning on extending his workshop near Belford and installing specialist stone lifting equipment, to allow for larger projects.
In the future, he hopes to teach classes in letter carving and sculpture, and to take on an apprentice, to help ensure a future in stone carving locally.
Luke will display work at Feltonbury Art Festival on June 22, and at Belford Art Festival on July 13 and 14.
Visitors to his workshop are welcomed. Email Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Instagram at The Northumbrian Stone Carver or on Facebook at Luke Batchelor – Stone Carving.