An extraordinarily influence figure for my work lies in the life of the master wood carver, David Esterly, who passed away in 2019.
A quote from the Economist's obituary that stands out is: "Mr Esterly, whose studies as a Fulbright scholar at Cambridge had been in Yeats and the philosopher Plotinus, hoped he had found a way to combine intellectual, moral and sensory experience into what Yeats called “unity of being”.
David Esterly was clearly channeling the energy of Gibbons, his 17th century wood carver inspiration:
"And it had begun in a moment: that moment in 1974 when his girlfriend Marietta, later his wife, took him to see the Gibbons carvings behind the altar in St James’s Church, Piccadilly. He was thunderstruck, and his reaction was physical: hairs rising on his neck, his skin tingling, and his tongue seeming to move over ivory’s coolness and smoothness. (“The thinking of the body”, Yeats would have called it.) His first, academic, thought was to write a book about Gibbons; his second was just to pick up tools and teach himself to carve. The minute his chisel struck the wood, he was in thrall. Ensconced in a cottage in Sussex for eight years, then at Barneveld, he became a ghost’s apprentice. But no, that put it too lightly: by the end of a decade, he was a slave.