WoodCentral's Book Reviews
The Art of Ian Norbury

The Art of Ian Norbury
by Ian Norbury

Fox Chapel Publishing: 2004
Paperback, 151 pp., $24.95
ISBN 1-56523-222-4

     Ian Norbury is a living master sculptor, and a well thought of teacher in the art of woodcarving. This book pretty much displays his life's work, from a ten inch high, masked clown he sold in college, to the mounted White Knight, a figure from Alice In Wonderland he uses to represent his own White Knight gallery in Cheltenham, England. He has done walnut nudes, figures from various mythologies, and surreal scenes influenced by the art of Salvador Dali and Remedios Varro.
     Jesters, Shakespearean characters, and his famous harlequins are all photographed in amazing detail. Norbury mixes woods and mixes media: his harlequins are famous for the hundreds of inlaid diamonds all carved in perfect wrinkle patterns of the characters' costumes. No traditionalist as to form, Norbury also carved a harlequin representing a computer with a corrupted hard drive, his hand extended from the monitor and disintegrating into pixels.
     These pieces must be seen to be believed: Gaea reclining on a marble ball, Aphrodite arising from sea foam, a masked bride with a snake twining up her legs…the man's imagination is unfettered. This is a stunning work and interesting for any woodworker to observe where the master sculptor decided to leave raw wood and where he has committed the piece to a high polish. Notice how he has applied colors and used gems and metals, how he includes myth or history (even Tony Blair, of whom he has a decidedly low political opinion) to give a piece symbolic meaning.
     If nothing else, enjoying this volume as an art book can leave a reader amazed at what is possible in the use of the human hand.

. . . Barb Siddiqui