This week Maidstone Park is covered with an assortment of gazebos and sun shades as young and old would-be stone masons get to work carving blocks of stone. It is the annual “Stoneworks” festival where anyone can try their hand at carving the blocks of soft white Oamaru stone.
We walked around the park and came across the youngest mason, a lad of just 13. He was happy to chat to us while he was chipping away, working on producing a stack of coffee cups, one on top of the other, out of his block of stone. The registration fee includes the blocks of stone, we were told, and all the tools are loaned to the participates.
I was quite taken with these two small items, a sphinx and a small Celtic cross. Both have been cleverly inlaid with pieces of timber. This mason had obviously done this sort of work before.
Another man was working away on hollowing out a cube. His grand plan was to stack all his small cubes one of top of the other. The stone seems very easy to work with and we noticed that everyone was cutting and smoothing their pieces without too much effort at all. The white dust was swirling around in the wind. “I make sure I work so the dust is blown away from me”,he told us. That seems good advice.
The Stoneworks festival lasts all week and culminates in an auction of the sculptures, so anyone can buy one of these hand crafted works of art. But if I put all that work into shaping a piece of stone, it would be hard to let it go.