by ANTONY CLAY
TAKING part in a dry-stone walling course somewhere in the wilds of the Peak District proved to be a source of artistic inspiration for Rotherham man Stuart Mitchell.
He enjoyed piecing bits of rock together to form a wall so much that he thought he could use the skills he picked up to keep the boredom at bay during lockdown.
Stuart, of Falding Street in Masbrough, Rotherham, realised that he could employ the same techniques using small stones to create attractive pieces of art.
The 47-year-old has created miniature stone sculptures in the shape of a windmill, a pyramid and a cross, as well as other pieces.
He is now thinking about how he can develop his artistic endeavour and get his work seen by more people.
Stuart, a former inspector in the oil and gas industry who is currently between jobs, said: “A lot of people have taken up craft hobbies during the lockdowns as well as me, but I think mine’s quite original.
“A few years ago, I spent a day dry-stone walling for the National Trust as a volunteer, and I came up with the idea of using the same techniques I learnt to create miniature stone sculptures at home.
“All that’s needed is stone, adhesive and patience.
“I did a miniature stone wall using the same techniques and it worked out really well so I took it from there.
“It’s quite easy to do and all I need is glue. I use the stones you get for drives or paths.”
Stuart said that he would have liked to do more dry-stone walling but does not drive which made getting out to rural locations impractical.
So he thought up his home-based art in order to keep himself busy.
“As with everybody, I was just bored. This keeps me occupied for a couple of hours a day,” said Stuart.
“I have just been playing about.
“I got furloughed and it gave me a lot of spare time.
“It’s the same buzz I used to get from engineering.
“I have always been very hands-on and practical.”
Stuart has created 20 pieces so far, including candleholders and a grave marker.
“The cross was a bit of a challenge. It was quite high. I might donate it to a church,” said Stuart.
He said that his mum and dad have a number of his creations outdoors at their home. “Their garden is full of them,” admitted Stuart.
He said that he believes no one else is creating artworks in the same way, which has spurred him on over the last 18 months to be ever more creative.
“Because it’s unique it has a certain kind of appeal,” said Stuart.
“I have trawled websites and nobody else seems to be doing it.”
“I was just searching for a hobby.
“I really don’t know how it will develop. I’m hoping someone will take an interest in it and I can do something for them.”
Stuart is part of the Rotherham Creative Network and a member of Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance (ROAR), based at Westgate Chambers in the town.