We sat down with Dan David to find out where his love of sculpture first started, how his art has changed over the years, and what artwork of his gets the most laughs.
Dan: When I was in my twenties I discovered the work of Damien Hirst and the YBA’s. Their ‘shock tactics’ and experimental use of material have been a central influence to my work.
AR: What first drew you to sculpture as a medium?
Dan: I was first introduced to stone as a young lad living in Ireland. I was taught how to do dry stone walling and given a book called Stone Mad by the Irish stone sculptor Seamus Murphy. His account of his seven years as an apprentice and his ‘reverence for a well made thing’ was the inspiration to choose stone as my medium.
AR: How does your first sculpture compare to the art that you are making now?
Dan: My early work was quite different compared to the work I’m making now. I was heavily influenced by Op art, Graffiti and Typography. Many of my early sculptures were more 2 dimensional optical illusions. Some incorporating lettering and some more abstract, mainly carved in slate.
AR: What is the strangest thing that has inspired an artwork of yours?
Dan: That’s a difficult question to answer… I guess you could say the culture I grew up in… maybe you can’t get much stranger than that?
AR: You use such traditional materials, what first intrigued you about them and how did they become a part of your practice?
Dan: It’s an interesting relationship that the stone carver has with his material. As a young apprentice, I was taught to work it by hand. After many years you start to “know” your stone and when best to use it. When it is quarried from the land, it has taken thousands of years to form, which is mind boggling. The old boys I used to work with would say.. “it took thousands of years for that bit of stone to form and ten minutes for you to fu*k it up".
AR: You combine the old and the new to humorous effect - do you have an artwork that gets the best reaction from people?
Dan: It’s got to be the ‘Cheeky Half’ ecstasy pill sculpture, it always gets a giggle.
AR: What is the perfect environment for you to create art in? When do you work best?
Dan: I am a night owl, I’m at my most creative at about 2am. My studio is a converted piggery in the middle of nowhere in rural Norfolk. So ideal for night time carving whilst listening to banging House Music at full blast.
AR: How long does each artwork take for you to complete?
Dan: It depends on many things. From the scale of the piece to the type of stone. Limestone for example is generally pretty quick to carve where as marble is really slow (twice as slow).
Also, it depends if I’m carving by hand using traditional tools such as mallet and chisels or quicker methods such as shot blasting. I’ve found a wonderful stone supplier in Rajasthan, India. He sources beautiful stone from around the world for me. He recently sent me a large boulder of Crystal rock, which he sourced in Afghanistan. It’s completely clear, like glass. The only problem is, it’s incredibly hard, each time I struck my chisel it created sparks!
Dan David at work on one of his artworks