Meet James McLoughlin, Master of Stone, Wood and Bronze
James McLoughlin isn’t just a sculptor, he’s an artist. Working with wood, stone and bronze, James creates the most lifelike figures. So much so that you might mistake them for the real thing!
He first discovered his talent during his time as a United Nations Peace Keeper in Lebanon. “We used to have plenty of time on our hands in between duties, so reading books and whittling timber with a pen knife passed the time for me there. I found that hours would pass because I got so absorbed with the work. I wasn’t any good at the time but I suppose it was a start.”
James’ natural talent won him a scholarship to the City and Guild of London Art School in 2001. “Once I arrived to London I was exposed to the unbelievable figurative and ornamental work that embellishes nearly every corner of the city. I was truly infatuated.” James had found his calling.
Creative occupations can be draining but our sculptor finds motivation in every piece. “I love that every job I do is different than the last. It can either be in wood, stone or bronze and every one of them has its different challenges.
“Most of the time I’m given a brief by the client. If they’re asking me to carve them an elephant I can’t go and carve them a giraffe! I have to stick to certain boundaries but where I get involved is the type of pose, size, material and amount of detail involved. It’s also controlled by the budget and how much time you can spend on it. But I always seem to have plenty of ideas knocking around in my head somewhere when needed.
“I do think that Irish craft is gaining more popularity. The Craft Council of Ireland have a lot to do with that. A lot of artists and craft people are exporting work abroad.
“My fear is that generations of knowledge from certain trades could be lost if it’s not passed down to the next generation. Everything that is made is influenced by the people who came before us, whether we realise it or not. If I talk about my own trade, I’d be lost if I couldn’t look back at the amazing masters that came before me.”
James also finds it important to support local suppliers to the Irish craft trade. “We have lovely hardwoods here in Ireland and also beautiful stone. It’s good to pass on work to these lads and they in turn pass work onto me. It helps to keep us all in business.
“The most important thing as an artist or an artisan is that you hope that you get jobs that will take you out of your comfort zone and push you beyond your limits. It’s the only way to learn and grow as an artist.”
Right now, James is working on the French Gothic style St Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, Cork. “I’m doing all the new carving, both wood and stone, that is being erected in there. In my opinion, it’s the greatest Cathedral this country has ever produced. It’s great to be part of the history of such a magnificent building.”
For more information, visit jamesmcloughlinsculpture.com or call 087 636 8884.