Give a woman a chisel…

Passing by the kitchen, I noticed Loli repeatedly stabbing a piece of wood with a screwdriver. Intrigued, I asked her (WTF!) she was doing. “I am carving an owl” she said.

I had no idea as to why she suddenly felt the urge to carve, nor what led her to believe that a screwdriver was an appropriate carving tool, but remembered that I owned a set of wood-carving chisels, unused since I had concluded that carving wood was not my metier, and set off to find them.

I returned a few minutes later with a set of six, high-quality English-made wood carving chisels in a faded red cardboard box which I gave to her. “Try these” I said “I think you’ll find them better for carving wood than that old screwdriver”.

Her face lit up as though a bonfire had ignited close by. I wanted to know where her sudden urge to carve had come from but confined myself to doing no more than warn of the health implications in using sharp tools – always cut away from the body, not towards it – and just left her to it…

Shortly thereafter, a charmingly-carved owl appeared. Loli was pleased as punch that she’d produced something purely out of her own imagination and handiwork, and without anyone telling her what to do or how to do it, and said she’d like to do another sculpture, a much bigger one.

This one took a long time – over a year, in fact – she worked late into the night, diligently and with passionate determination, for months on end. I encouraged her as best I could without interfering, not wanting to pollute the clarity of her intent, equally fascinated and delighted to watch her talent unfold as naturally as a tree unfurls its new leaves in spring.

Eventually it was finished: a totem, reminiscent of Easter Island, painstakingly and lovingly hewn from pine, a triumph of personal will and devotion unsullied by ‘education’, the imposition of another’s will or any other form of prejudice.

"Totem" by Loli Poveda - carved pine wood, height 100 cm.

“Totem” by Loli Poveda – carved pine wood, height 100 cm.

Isn’t it amazing what can be achieved with nothing more than the liberty to express oneself, the right tools and a little bit of bloody-mindedness?

No teachers, no ‘permissions’, no laborious lectures and no limitations. Just freedom.

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