Yorkshire Dales sculptor Joseph Hayton wins accolade at Stone Federation's Natural Stone Awards

Pateley Bridge sculptor Joseph Hayton says his work is ‘like an addiction’ - and his ‘timeless’ pieces have now won him a national award. John Blow reports.

Pateley Bridge sculptor Joseph Hayton.

Sculptor Joseph Hayton likens his work to an “addiction”, one as natural to him as the trees and elements he carves into his “timeless” pieces.

Now he has been recognised as one of the best in the land at what he does.

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Joseph’s work has been awarded as a winning entry in the carving, lettering and sculpture category at the Stone Federation of Great Britain’s Natural Stone Awards 2020.

The green man.

The award ceremony usually takes place in London but was delayed because of Covid-19 and took place over Zoom on Friday last week.

It is not the first time Joseph’s work has been recognised by the federation. In 2016, his public sculpture Pillars Past was Highly Commended in the same category.

The work that has captured the attention of judges this time is called Pagan Pillars and Roundels, crafted for client Andrew Cope of Ilkley-based Glen Mhor Estates. The pillar features pagan icons and imagery, including green men and a tree of life, while also incorporating lines of text from the Iliad poem by Homer.

The work’s roundels feature a Yggdrasil Viking tree of life and a green man.

Joseph Hayton's winning pillars.

The stone work is carved from Portland limestone quarried in Dorset and Kilkenny Irish Limestone.

In their comments about Joseph’s winning work, judges said: “The craftsmanship applied to each piece sparks the imagination \and encourages further study of the subjects depicted.”

They described the pillar structures as appearing “gravity-defying”, looking “ready to topple over”, while praising his technical ability.

“Each piece is carefully constructed, intricately carved and timeless,” they said, concluding: “The dark Kilkenny plinths provide the perfect contrast to the limestone pieces that will continue to bring pleasure to those fortunate enough to visit these grounds.”

Joseph, 33, was pleased with the award and comments, describing the triumph as a “surprise” after his previous Highly Commended accolade.

“It’s a bit of an addiction, really,” says Joseph, when speaking about his love of the craft. “I’ve always been interested in making things since I was very young. I suppose it’s part of my nature, that I really enjoy to make things. It’s just a lifelong passion, really. It keeps me interested because it’s so challenging, and there are lots of thing I want to do and want to make.”

As well as a stone carver, Joseph is a bronze sculptor based at the King Street workshops, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire.

Now living in Gargrave, he is originally from Silsden, West Yorkshire.

He studied art and sculpture in the sixth form at South Craven School and trained as a stonemason at York College before setting up his sculpting business in 2012, undertaking numerous private commissions.

He is married to wife Kimberley, with whom he has a 16-month-old child, Polly.

And he hopes this award will be another feather in the cap for his business, though he has been able to find work steadily during the pandemic.

Another piece of work, Cromer War Memorial in Norfolk, was also named a winner in the carving, lettering and sculpture category after Cliveden Conservation cleaned up the town’s sculpture.

The Natural Stone Awards is a biennial event set up to celebrate the “best and brightest of natural stone construction projects from across the industry,” according to the Federation. Each year, hundreds of projects from across the UK are submitted into the different categories.

Joseph’s portrait of James Butler RA was also awarded the Tiranti prize for best work by a sculptor aged 30 or under at the Society of Portrait Sculptors Face exhibition in 2018.