Stone carvings by Swanage students to go on pier to mark anniversary

To help celebrate the 125th anniversary of Swanage Pier, pupils from The Swanage School have been learning the ancient local art of stone carving as part of a project linking the pier with its industrial heritage.

Art Creates Art is a collaborative project between The Swanage School, the Swanage Pier Trust and the Burngate Stone Carving Centre, which will see the student’s work create an art trail on the pier.

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Stone carving project at Burngate
Swanage School

Students are working on stone carvings for display on Swanage Pier

Stone rubbing

The scheme forms part of a school project for year ten students to explore the natural world, inspired by the history of the pier and the surrounding environment.

It has given the children the chance to work with the Burngate Stone Carving Centre at Langton Matravers near Swanage.

When it’s finished, their work will be installed on wooden plinths on the pier to create a trail for stone rubbing. This is like brass rubbing, with a piece of paper put on top of the stone carving and then by rubbing a wax crayon across the paper, it transfers the pattern onto the paper.

Stone carving students at Haysom Quarry
The Swanage School

Students visit Haysom Quarry at Langton Matravers near Swanage

The importance of stone to the area

In the lead up to the project, pupils visited the pier to find out more about its history and went to Haysom Quarry to do background research on the industry.

They learnt about the pier’s historical importance for the town and how the quarried stone was transported by boat from the pier to building sites in London.

They also viewed existing stone carving work around the area, including the intricate paving outside the pier and the nearby Sea Life Bench carved by former students.

The Sea Life Bench on the path from the pier to Peveril Point was completed in 2019. It was inspired by local artist Carlotta Barrow, with students carving the back panels, designed to look like rolling waves.

Stone quarrying has been a backbone of the local economy for centuries with many important buildings including cathedrals and official buildings using the highly regarded Purbeck stone. It is also regularly used in garden ornaments and grave headstones.

Stone carving students at Swanage pier
The Swanage School

Students at the Swanage Pier researching its history and its relationship to the stone quarrying industry

Keeping local crafts alive

Over several workshops at the Burngate Centre, students have been learning the traditional craft of stone carving and developing their own pieces for the final installation. One of the aims of the project is to keep traditional local crafts alive for the next generation.

Clare Denby, centre manager at Burngate, said:

“Students have been able to learn from one of our experienced tutors the art of stone carvings and we can’t wait to see the finished carvings, which once installed on Swanage Pier, will enable visitors to create their own stone rubbings.” 

Stone carving project at Burngate
The Swanage School

The Swanage School students work on their designs at the Burngate Stone Carving Centre

“Consider a future career”

Zara Saganic, art teacher at Swanage School said:

“We are delighted that students have this wonderful opportunity to produce ‘art from art’.

“Our students have loved being involved in the project, and their experience of carving has even led one or two to consider a future career working with stone.”

Swanage Pier
Swanage Pier Trust

The stone carvings will be displayed on Swanage Pier

“Excited to see the designs come to life”

Ginny Carvisiglia, learning and education officer with Swanage Pier Trust, said the joint project had come about because the pier was looking to create an installation linking it with the history of the stone trade. This year, 2022, marks Swanage Pier’s 125th anniversary.

She said:

“It was great to have The Swanage School students visit the pier to get inspiration for their stone carving designs and they have been making great progress at Burngate Stone Carving Centre over the last couple of months.

“We’re excited to see the designs come to life on the pier this summer!”

Sea Life Bench
The Swanage School

The Sea Life Bench created by The Swanage School students in 2019

Further information

  • More about stone carving including details of its ‘Have a go’ courses is on the Burngate Stone Carving Centre website

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