Stonemason's lasting tribute to her Dad at York Minster

0
Have your say

THE death of her sculptor father when she was just 11 was a huge blow.

But Harriet Pace inherited her father Martin’s creativity - and his sense of humour - and she has now immortalised him in a new grotesque on York Minster.

Harriet with the grotesque - which was modelled on her father Picture: Simon Hulme

Harriet with the grotesque - which was modelled on her father Picture: Simon Hulme

Using her father’s chisels and roping in brother Sam to capture his profile - the pair looked very alike - the features of the late teacher at York Technical Art College have been bought back to life in the shape of a medieval doctor carrying a bottle of urine.

“I think he would laugh and he would be very proud,” she said. “He has been an inspiration for my creative side in life.

“But I had to give him long hair to fit in with the mediaeval style - my Dad was quite bald.”

The grotesque was one of four weathered figures removed from the cathedral last year, which were believed to date from the late 1700s, and can be seen at the annual Stoneyard Open Day on Friday (August 30).

Stonemason Harriet Pace pictured with the grotesque she has completed, a Medieval Doctor based on her late father Martin Pocture: Simon Hulme

Stonemason Harriet Pace pictured with the grotesque she has completed, a Medieval Doctor based on her late father Martin Pocture: Simon Hulme

While some of the older hands can turn out a grotesque in a month, Ms Pace, whose grandfather George Pace was an eminent ecclesiastical architect, took three months for hers - her very first.

The old carving stood 3ft high, had just one arm, a high collar and a hood and cloak, which research suggested could be a choir boy, monk or doctor.

Written on the side of a book that the new figure is carrying, she has written her surname.

“That’s my Dad’s and his family, ” she said. “I’ve also given him a Nike tick on the bottom of the shoe, but you won’t even be able to see it (when it’s installed) as the shoe faces the sky.”

Martin Pace

Martin Pace

Master Mason John David, who will be giving tours today of the plaster cast museum and drawing office, treasures a wooden wedge dating back to the 1300s, which was recently found in the Minster’s ancient walls.

The little piece of wood was made by someone “with a knife in his pocket because they didn’t have saws then.”

Hundreds of craftsmen, who have worked on the Minster over the centuries, are not recorded by history, although they have left marks that identify them on the stone.

The current team of 16 continue their work.

“We are just part of an ongoing restoration to keep the building in a good state of repair,” said Mr David, who has been at the Minster for 39 years.

“We do it to the best of our ability and in good faith with all the people who have been here before us.”

The new grotesque - the others feature a figure of St George, his legendary foe, the dragon, and a figure inspired by a homeless person - will go 70ft up on the South Quire Aisle next Spring.

Today is one of the few opportunities to see them up close.

Mr David said the event helped people understand the building better: “Often people look at it and say: ‘They couldn’t do this now’ but when you disassemble it and take it to pieces and look at the individual bits you can see how it goes together more.”