A memorial to the street where I live


I live in a Georgian style terraced house built in 1852. At the front above what is now the front door used to be what looked like a bricked in opening for a window, the same size as the two large sash windows , to each side of it. In fact it never was a window, as behind it is a wall which separates my neighbour’s house and mine. My wife had already set up her bespoke carved stone import business when in 2005 one of my neighbours died. I decided to design a carved stone frieze in honour of the many people who had lived on my street over the years. After some consideration I decided that the subject matter would be a tree of life, a tree being an ancient symbol of life from many cultures and religions, which include Nordic, Mohammedan, Jewish, and Christian. I wanted to be inclusive.

I have a tree of life Persian rug populated with elephants and lions, but I decided perhaps local English birds would be more appropriate and mostly I chose ones we see every day: collared doves which are recent additions to our bird community from Europe, blue tits, a blackbird (my personal favourite so it has pride of place), and a woodpecker which we don’t actually see, but it somehow squeezed in! There are apples growing on the tree in the hope that the people on the street will always be bountiful, and to the bottom right a snake because in this world no garden is perfect, and even in our idyllic community there is sometimes friction, which is usually something to do with parking!

Because of its size and weight it had to be made out of three pieces of stone and even then they were quite a job to install weighing in at 60 kilos each.

Here is the design:

The final design and the finished carving (slightly foreshortened, hence the different aspect ratio)

As well as the religious or more mythological symbolism I wanted to indicate the food chain and how all life is a part of it; from a leaf nourished by sunlight with a caterpillar feeding on it, to a blue tit looking down wanting to eat that. In future I plan to carry on this theme by putting a stone cat on the sill looking up at the blue tit, and then a dog at ground level looking up at the cat… but that’s for the future.