Since you ask me for a story about Philip & Moss, the founders of the Ambrose + Goulding Stone Collective let me begin…

Philip Goulding O’Brien, lurking near the foot of Helvellyn

Philip, inspired by early 20th century art, modernism and medieval grotesques, creates original, often semi-abstract, sculptures.

Philip was first attracted to stone carving as a hobby when living in Cambridge, following an open day at Eric Marland’s studio in the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground but, due to work commitments and the vagaries of life, wasn’t able to pick up a chisel and mallet back then. Several years later, and exactly 1 day after retiring from a career as a roving Software Engineer, Philip came across a flyer for the West Riding Stonecarving Association foundation course, booked himself onto it and hasn’t looked back since.

For Philip, design is just the starting point of stone carving. Working primarily in reclaimed limestone, sandstone or slate with their unpredictable natural inclusions and flaws, he will respond, even mid-carving, to best reveal and accentuate the stone’s true character.

Most works are weather-friendly, suitable for display indoors or out, and with the potential to last for centuries. Natural weathering will enhance the character of the artworks over time. The lifespan of each piece is always considered, even before the first touch of the chisel.

Carved furious owl in Maltese limestone, representing Moss Ambrose

After a postgraduate MA in Mediaeval Studies from the University of York, Moss was fully qualified to spend the next 40 years in teaching. Nevertheless it stuck with him as an abiding interest in art forms deriving from the middle ages and prior. An itch that clearly needed to be scratched.

Come retirement, he set out to acquire the traditional skill sets needed to produce arts relating to ancient models. Starting with ceramics, this was rapidly succeeded by a fascination with the crafting of leaded and painted stained glass. Some time later, he embarked on stone carving, which continues to be, with Moss, something of an obsession. All in all, he is now probably capable – given time – of creating his own secular chantry chapel…or possibly a small pub!

It’s the different qualities of all these materials that fascinates Moss: the flexibility and malleability of ceramics; the lambent qualities of stained glass; the intransigent, stubborn physicality of stone. Each poses a separate challenge, and its resolution is a triumph of mind over materials.

His models and inspiration continue to come from early art, and Moss’ creations may contain elements of Viking, Mediaeval, Celtic and South American influences. He continues to explore the creativity of past traditions and diverse civilisations. Where it will take him is uncertain, but he feels sure that he will enjoy the journey. Please feel free to come along for the ride…