Herbert George

Stone Portraits

Inspired by photographs found in newspapers and books these are images of anonymous, innocent women and children trapped within the violence and destructive force of war and its aftermath. Implicit in the stone portraits is an aesthetic paradox: materials of great sensual beauty contrast dramatically with the images that are their subject. This tension between image and material is an important aspect of the emotional presence of the sculptures.

Each stone matches my initial concept, and each is carved by hand from a different variety, coloration and hardness of stone. For example, onyx is brittle, and translucent. It is ideally suited for a work that needs thin and fragile edges that will glow in the light. These material differences have a significant influence on the sculpture’s final form.

The first series of sculptures in this section are entitled: Portrait Fragments. They are not portraits in the traditional sense in that there is a limited attempt to capture a specific likeness. Rather these are “fragments” of generalities. Parts of a whole that may add up to a resemblance only. One that leaves a great deal of room for the process of making and seeing.

The focus of my most recent works, entitled Composite Likeness, moves away from the individual portrait to a composite rendering. Here I carve details found within the frame of a particular photo, creating new narrative images that include something of the emotional, structural and spatial relationships existing within the original photograph. Thus challenging the assumed accuracy of the original photo by presenting three-dimensional images that create a plural likeness as opposed to a singular portrait composed from parts.