“What a carver must do – if anything – to stone is to reveal more fully its intrinsic beauty and character.” - Hew Lorimer
The importance Robert placed on the sculptures of the Scottish National War Memorial established a tradition of stone carving and architectural sculpture in Edinburgh, a tradition that benefitted his son Hew. Around 1950, Hew secured a position as architectural sculptor for the National Library of Scotland, desgined by Reginald Fairlie. Balancing 30ft above the pavement, Hew chiseled seven monumental figures, each 8’6” tall, symbolic of Science, Justice, Poetry, Music, Religion, History and Medicine.
Hew was dedicated to the practice of direct carving, a practice rooted in his three month apprenticeship with sculptor Eric Gill. Like Michelangelo, Hew never modeled in clay. Instead, he carved directly into the wood or stone, allowing his chisel to find the figure within the material rather than forcing it to follow clay models.
“Once the original shape of the block is gone, in the early stages of carving, you are proceeding largely on Faith,” wrote Hew. In the late 1930s, he converted to Catholicism, a faith which became fundamental to his craft. In 1958, he was commissioned to create a monument to the Virgin Mary for the predominantly Catholic islanders of remote South Uist. Known as Our Lady of the Isles, the sculpture began as a third-scale stone model, and grew into a 27ft granite statue, the result of unwavering faith and dedication to the practice of direct carving.
Hew Lorimer carving the Figure of History (1954), National Library of Scotland, Photo: © National Trust for Scotland
National Library of Scotland (1938-1956), Edinburgh, Designed by Reginald Fairlie, Sculpture by Hew Lorimer, Private Collection
Sketch of Santa Trinita Catholic Church Door Panel (1932), Hew Lorimer, Photo: © National Trust for Scotland
Figure of History (1954-1956), National Library of Scotland, Hew Lorimer, Private Collection
Our Lady of the Isles (1957), Reuval Hill, Hew Lorimer, Photo: © National Trust for Scotland
Hew Lorimer and Maxwell Alan constructing Our Lady of Our Isles, Reuval Hill, Photo: © National Trust for Scotland
Gifted with paintbrushes, needles and clay, Lorrie was an all-round artist. When she moved to British Guina, now Guyana, with her husband Sir Everard im Thurn, she made models of the people she met, a practice she repeated in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and Fiji. At some point, she created a sculpture of a mother and child, capturing a perfect moment of tenderness between them.
A similar sense of warmth and affection is felt in a sculptute of the Holy Family, created by Jane Lorimer (née McWhirter) while she was at Marlborough College. Her teacher, Robin Child, played a key role in her confidence and creativity, just as Donna Rae guided her daughter Charlotte.
In her sculpture of an apple, Charlotte strove to reveal its inherent geometry and symbolism. The five bands echo the five pointed star, seen when an apple is cut horizontally, and symbolise five characteristics - knowledge, discovery, innovation, courage, and beauty - drawn from myths, stories and associations. These include Genesis, in which Eve picks the Apple of Knowledge, the myth of the Greek beauty contest for which the prize was a golden apple, the story of Isaac Newton, who allegedly made the discovery of gravity when an apple fell from a tree, the story of William Tell who displayed extraordinary courage when he shot an apple off his son’s head to save both their lives, and the association between Steve Job's apple logo and exceptional innovation. Designed while Charlotte was at St Leonards School, the sculpture was chosen by Robertsons as the winner of its sculpture competiton and scaled up so that it could be displayed in the centre of the orchard at Abbey Park.
Mother and Child, J.B. and C.K.M.B, (1900) Hannah Lorimer, Kellie Castle, Photo: © Charlotte Lorimer
The Holy Family, Jane Lorimer, Private Collection, Photo: © Charlotte Lorimer
Ad Vitam Maquette (2012), Charlotte Lorimer, Private Collection, Photo: © Charlotte Lorimer
Charlotte Lorimer with Ad Vitam (2013), designed by Charlotte Lorimer, made by Iron Design by Rory, Abbey Park Orchard, St Andrews, Photo: © Jane Lorimer